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Thread: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

  1. #1
    Pacer Junky Will Galen's Avatar
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    Default Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    http://celtics.bostonherald.com/celt...format=&page=3

    A big Pierce of puzzle: Celtics star changes to fit new coach
    By Mark Murphy
    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Sometimes you see darkness before crawling out into the sun.

    Paul Pierce admitted yesterday that during the lowest points this season, he thought about playing somewhere else.

    ``You think about all of that,'' the Celtics captain said after yesterday's practice, on the eve of his team's third straight first-round playoff series against Indiana. ``At times I thought this was not the best situation for me. What veteran player wouldn't if his team wasn't doing well?

    ``I never asked to be traded, though. I never lulled, and I never missed a practice.''

    He admittedly chafed, though, under the direction of his fourth NBA coach, Doc Rivers. There were fights between the two - some apparently over the top.

    ``I guess I got a little hot,'' he said of a contentious situation that carried beyond two brief courtside flare-ups with Rivers after he was benched this season. ``I know of one - no, two - arguments that ya'll don't know about.''

    Arguments, perhaps, that made it difficult to stay in the same room with his coach?

    Pierce paused, smiled quizzically, and said, ``I'll have to talk to you about that later.''

    To hear Pierce describe his situation now, it's like last Monday's cloudless marathon weather. He's going to the playoffs for the fourth straight time, with a third seed that flies in the face of the Celtics' struggle to move over .500 the first half of the season.

    Back then he was asked to sacrifice points for balance, ego for the greater good, and Pierce wasn't always the good soldier. He often came across as petulant and reluctant, despite a pressing desire to carry the team somewhere better.

    ``It was a huge adjustment for me,'' Pierce said of dealing with Rivers and his unsparing approach. ``It was not only his style, but also adjusting to the players.

    ``It was tough on me, because I had to be out here and take a lesser role to guys who were pretty much unproven, and that was hard for me. Once I got past that, I started to feel more comfortable in my role.''

    Setting the Pacers

    Funny how all routes lead back to the Indiana Pacers.

    In more secure times, when the Celtics upset the Pacers in the first round of the 2003 playoffs, Pierce was the most relentless driver in the league. He won the man-to-man battle with Ron Artest, in part because the Pacers couldn't or wouldn't help their stopper, and Pierce pitched a tent on the foul line as a result.

    With Antoine Walker gone, the load fell on a dejected Pierce during last spring's sweep by the Pacers. His press conference after Game 3 in the FleetCenter - highlighted by the comment ``this isn't why I signed a long-term contract'' - was as dour as his four-game 34.2 shooting percentage.

    His moodiness seemed to worsen this winter. By the time Walker returned via a Feb. 24 trade, Pierce was a drowning, disillusioned star.

    Walker, however, chose to look the other way yesterday.

    ``He's been fine,'' the Celtics forward said. ``When you don't win it's frustrating. Paul's a competitor, and he wants to win. That's a frustrating season when you hover around .500.''

    The Walker trade's effect on Pierce's game has been well documented. Double teams have been virtually scrapped. Not coincidentally, Pierce is getting his best looks at the basket in two years, with defenses now pinned by a pick-your-poison rotation that includes Walker, Ricky Davis, Gary Payton, Raef LaFrentz and rookie Al Jefferson.

    Perhaps the most notable sign of change is the fact that Pierce, thanks to an 8-of-14 shooting performance against New Jersey Wednesday, finished the regular season with the highest shooting percentage (45.5) of his career.

    Rivers admitted there were some hot moments, but he said to look at the end result. With the suspended Artest on the shelf until next fall, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle will have to be particularly inventive to devise a workable Pierce double team.

    ``I was asking him to do things he never did before, but his numbers improved, and he's a more efficient player now,'' Rivers said. ``One thing I give Paul credit for is that he was not frustrated with the changes, but that the changes weren't working. None of that credit goes to me - it's all for Paul.

    ``I think he saw us scoring more points, saw his field goal percentage going up, and then making the changes were easy. But he was the guy who made the changes. Last year he got the ball and then everyone stood around and watched him play.''

    Beyond the arguments, according to Rivers, there has been plenty of communication.

    ``We've had a ton of meetings - on planes, in my hotel room, just talking things over,'' Rivers said. ``I want to know, sometimes, where he's at. Sometimes it can be hard to tell. But as coaches we believe in communication.

    ``I know there were arguments, with me taking him out of a game one time. But I also knew that I had to do what I had to do. At times you know you won't make someone happy. But that's sports. That's what business is, too.''

    Growin' on each other

    Rivers said that if nothing else, ``We always have respect for each other.''

    For Pierce's part, ``I guess I got it, to use one of Doc's favorite terms.''

    Rivers' ``They don't get it'' remark - which he pinned on the entire team following a dismal loss in Philadelphia April 12 - clearly grated on Pierce.

    But at the same time he said, ``Yeah, I'm happy. We are where I knew we could be. I like our chemistry now, our team. I can't wait to see where we go now. I think we match up with Detroit, Miami and Indiana. This team is the best team I've played on since I've been a Celtic.''

    He even smiled when asked about dodging the trade bullet and remaining a Celtic. Then again, he's been around long enough to understand that life is much like the New England weather.

    ``I could see myself here next year,'' Pierce said with an emphatic but unconvincing nod, as a cloud moved overhead. ``But you never know.''

  2. #2
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    I agree with Pierce this is the best Celtic team

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    The New Gold Swagger travmil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    Let's hear his tune after the series. If the Pacers beat them I bet he demands a trade.

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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    Quote Originally Posted by travmil
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    Let's hear his tune after the series. If the Pacers beat them I bet he demands a trade.
    Pierce has never demanded a trade, even on bad teams prone to dealing away talent and getting nothing in return (Billups, Joe Johnson, etc.)

    People have extrapolated a few international games in which PP was not on the same wavelength with his coach and teammates and extrapolated what they saw to assert that he is some type of eternally crying malcontent.

    Pierce's main weakness is not that he is a jerk or selfish, it is that he is not particularly a leader and doesn't thrive on being the sole focal point of the offense. He likes having a guy like Walker to defer to when he is a little off his game.


    About this being the best Celtics team, it is certainly the deepest and the best offensively in the last 10 years. The ECF team played much better defense though. Dick Harter defense.

  5. #5
    canyoufeelit
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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    One of the reasons I predict a Celtics win (sorry) is... I hate Ron Artest. I'm done with him. But I know what kind of difference-maker he is. He can limit Pierce to 20 on very poor shooting. Without him to stop Pierce, this series could be a nightmare because Doc Rivers is going to look to go to him more now that it's the playoffs. Gonna be tough to stop this guy.

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    The New Gold Swagger travmil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    I don't buy that one bit pacertom. Put yourself in Pierce's shoes. He knows that Boston's management was prepared to blow this team up at midseason rather than retool for the playoffs. That means he was inches from being traded so the Celts could build from the ground up. I highly doubt that Pierce would have been part of those plans because as you pointed out, he's not a leader, and deferrs when his game is off. Let's say that after the Celts season is over, and they've been dispatched by the Pacers yet again, and the team is showing no signs of improvement significant enough to move up in the rising east. If that happens, and there's a good shot it will, if you were Paul Pierce what would you do? I'm not saying the guy is a malcontent jerk by any stretch. I'm saying he's a realist, and knows he's at the point in his career where he needs to find a team and a situation that will get it done for him, since it isn't going to happen in Boston.

  7. #7
    Member Vicious Tyrant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    Do I recall that last year we were all raving about C Mark Blount? Whatever happened to him.

    IIRC, there was lots of talk on this board about how impressive he looked and how much we'd like to find a way to acquire him - talk that was quelled when we drafted Harrison.

    I haven't heard anyone mention him - what happened to him?
    "If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy

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    The New Gold Swagger travmil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicious Tyrant
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    I haven't heard anyone mention him - what happened to him?
    He's had an awful season. Very soft, no defense, and phoned in the last 30 or so games.

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    The New Gold Swagger travmil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    Quote Originally Posted by btowncolt
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    A shiny new contract.
    That too, classic Dampier syndrome...

  10. #10
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicious Tyrant
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    Do I recall that last year we were all raving about C Mark Blount?
    Nope, it wasn't "we all." It was just me.

  11. #11
    Member Vicious Tyrant's Avatar
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    Talking Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthem
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    Nope, it wasn't "we all." It was just me.
    Can you blame me for my mistake, then? You speak with such authority and power, I assumed you spoke for everyone!
    "If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy

  12. #12
    White and Nerdy Anthem's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicious Tyrant
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    Can you blame me for my mistake, then? You speak with such authority and power, I assumed you spoke for everyone!
    I'm not sure if I should be honored or embarrassed...

  13. #13
    Member Vicious Tyrant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthem
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    I'm not sure if I should be honored or embarrassed...
    "If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy

  14. #14

    Default Re: Boston's Paul Pierce, "This team is the best I've played on."

    Blount is a plodding half-court player. He doesn't fit into River's system at all. LaFrentz beat him out as soon as hid knee got near 100%. Next year he will be behind BOTH Kendrick Perkins and Al Jefferson at backup 4/5.

    Blount would be better under Carlisle, but he was still way overpaid. He milked a good second half of a contract year for all it was worth. He is their best option as a low post defender however.

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