Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
One season after shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor (thriving in large part behind his familiar midrange game), Pierce entered Monday's game shooting a mere 35.8 percent (161-for-449) from beyond 3 feet this season, according to shot location info from HoopData. That includes only 32 percent from his typical midrange sweet spot (16-23 feet) and a mere 36.7 percent beyond the 3-point arc. Heck, Pierce isn't even finishing at the rim as well this year, his percentage down more than eight percent after shooting 70 percent there last season.
And then you look at his scoring average: 18.6 points per game this season; 18.9 points last year. All while averaging 4.9 assists per game this season, flirting with a career high (5.1 in 2003-04). Yes, ever the NBA chameleon, Pierce isn't letting the injury woes that set him back at the start of the season (and clearly remain a hindrance) stop him from contributing the way he's used to.
Which is why we should stop to appreciate what he did Monday night in Charlotte.
"I been feeling that way for the last couple of weeks now," Pierce said. "It's that point of the year, we're 40, 50 games in so I think it's important that I start getting into a comfortable flow heading into the playoffs."
The most clear example of his aggressive, attacking nature on Monday was seen in him getting to the free throw line a season-high 18 times.
"From the beginning of the game he was in attack mode," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "That is why you have great players. One of them steps up and you can win a game."
I wish there was a way to prove this, because I swear the phrase that's been uttered most about Paul Pierce over his career is "how the hell does he do that?"
He looks slower the most guys, his drives to the basket seem to take an hour to materialize, and aside from last year's aberration of posterizations, Pierce has never been a high-flying finisher.
… yet he always gets by people, he always gets to the rim, and he's always getting 3-point plays or at least a chance at them. I will say that there is no one better than Pierce has been at getting a good shot off after being fouled. He uses his body perfectly, he changes speeds as if his body is a shell being driven by a NASCAR driver, and he reads a defender like Robert Langdon reads secret codes. He just sees things that give him the advantage, and he uses them all, even now, to have games like he did last night.
Pierce always has been under appreciated. Maybe he always will be. Maybe that's just his lot in life.
On Page 2: A quick update on Pietrus
“The last I heard, they want to start the baseline tests this week, but I don’t think they’re even close to that because there are too many symptoms,” the coach said. “I don’t think we’ll see him for awhile.” .
I guess we were too optimistic about his return last week. The NBA has a VERY strict set of rules now when it comes to concussions as head injuries are taken much more seriously. We need Pietrus back, but only when he's fully healthy. Get well soon, MP.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: Celtics-Bobcats.. what we saw | Austin Rivers officially turning pro | ESPN Boston: Will C's add another body | Austin makes it official | WEEI: Celtics are in first place… can they stay there | Greg Stiemsma's march to NBA legitimacy | Herald: Bottom's up as Celtics beat Bobcats | Globe: Pierce lifts Celtics | Rivers runs through son's decision