BOSTON – As Paul Pierce was finishing up a barrage of interviews with the media on Northeastern University’s campusSaturday afternoon, unsolicited, he began talking about Boston’s Isaiah Thomas.
“He’s breaking records right now,” Pierce said. “That’s fun to watch.”
The same has been said about Pierce who spent his first 15 NBA seasons with the Celtics and ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders in several categories.
But now just hours away from when Pierce plays his final game at the TD Garden – now with the Los Angeles Clippers, Pierce announced earlier that he is retiring after this season – there is a sense of closure to his time with the Celtics.
But as the story of Pierce is coming up on its denouement, the Book of Isaiah (Thomas) is just getting started.
Indeed, Boston’s 5-foot-9 scoring machine has made admirers out of many, Pierce included.
“He’s starting to come into his own,” Pierce said. “He’s figured it out. He’s at the point in his career where he’s figured it out.”
Thomas comes into today’s game as the NBA’s No. 2 scorer, averaging 29.9 points per game. And his league-leading 10.5 points per game in the fourth quarter is the highest fourth quarter scoring average in more than 20 years.
Pierce’s comments on Saturday was not the first time he has heeped a bit of praise on Thomas whose play and the Celtics’ recent run of success has catapulted him into the conversation for the league MVP award.
Earlier, Pierce discussed how Thomas is playing “championship-caliber” basketball.
“That means everything,” Thomas said. “And from a first ballot hall of famer, a Celtics legend to say that about me that means a lot. Like I always say, I don’t care what anybody says but my peers and the people who did it before me. For a guy like that, that is crazy. I’m going to try and find his jersey so I can get it signed.”
Pierce said in watching Thomas play, the game “looks easy for him.”
Despite the time difference, Pierce said he tries to watch the Celtics play as much as he can.
“I keep up with them, whenever they are on TV,” Pierce said. “The game looks easy for him. He’s easily the best point guard in the Eastern Conference.”
Thomas was recently named to his second straight all-star team, in addition to being the Eastern Conference player of the month for January after averaging 32.9 points and 6.9 assists per game.
He became only the fourth Celtic ever to win the award, and first since – you guessed it – Pierce (March, 2012) to do.