Celtics

In retirement, Pierce looks back at a banner career

In retirement, Pierce looks back at a banner career

BOSTON -- Paul Pierce, looking relaxed as ever behind his dark-tinted sunglasses, has a flashback to an old R. Kelly song, resulting in the Truth humming a few lines that are slightly different. 
 
“Your body’s telling you no, but your mind is telling you yes,” a grinning Pierce croons.
 
He’s talking about being retired after 19 seasons, a time when Pierce’s mind remains sharp as ever while his body has gone the way of all NBA bodies after such a long and illustrious career.

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Pierce finished his Celtics career, which spanned 15 seasons, second to only John Havlicek in points scored (24,021). In addition, the 10-time All-Star finished tops in several team categories such as 3-pointers (1,823), free throws made (6,434) and steals (1,583).
 
For some, it’s about finding closure on a life of basketball that has been all they’ve known. 
 
But for Pierce, it’s not about shutting one door but rather opening himself up to opportunities that will keep him attached to a game that he’ll be the first to tell you has been so good to him for so many years. 
 
He signed (and was immediately waived) on July 17 by Boston so he could retire as a Celtic.
 
“I’m completely satisfied with my 19 years,” Pierce said in an exclusive 1-on-1 interview with CSN. “It made it easier for me to come to peace with it. It’s made it easier for me to walk away from the game. I had a competitive spirit that boiled in me for a long time. But I’m at peace with that now.”
 
It certainly helps that Pierce won’t be that far away from the game as an analyst for ESPN. 
 
“I’m trying to find other ways to direct that energy,” he said. “But the good thing is, I’m still around the game.” (Continue reading below link to podcast.)

LISTEN TO A. SHERROD BLAKELY'S FULL INTERVIEW WITH PAUL PIERCE


 
Last week, Pierce was at the Celtics’ practice facility, reminiscing over the hours spent on that floor, the blood, sweat and tears shed so that he could one day be considered one of the all-time greats in franchise history. 
 
And then he looks to the sky, sees the 2008 banner that he helped bring to Boston. 
 
Putting up banners. 
 
For all the praise and accolades a player can receive being a Celtic, winning titles is what it ultimately comes down to if you are to be among the immortals for the most storied franchise in NBA history. 
 
It is a message Pierce doesn’t hesitate to share with this new generation of Celtics, which includes young players such as Jayson Tatum.
 
Taken by Boston with the No. 3 pick in last June’s NBA draft, Tatum’s versatility as a scorer has often been compared to a young Paul Pierce when he came to Boston.
 
While there are similarities, Pierce sees the 19-year-old rookie as being more advanced from an offensive skills standpoint, than he was when he came into the NBA from Kansas. 
 
“When I’m watching him, he looks like a mature version of my game, like my sixth, seventh, eighth year,” Pierce said.
 
Words of encouragement to impart upon the young men donning the Green and White who will walk the paths that he and so many others have already traveled, is another benefit to retirement for Pierce. 
 
“I feel I can help out this young generation and impact that way,” Pierce said. “I can still talk about the game. I enjoy talking about the game, being around it; traveling to see games. It’s always going to be in my blood. It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. So, it’s gonna be hard to completely pull me away from the game.”
 
But helping ease that process will be the knowledge that he’ll get to spend more time with his wife and three children significantly more now than he did as a player. 
 
“I want to stay home, spend some time with my family,” Pierce said. “Catch up with them for lost time, missing them on holidays like Christmas or birthdays, their first this or first that. I missed all of that from playing the game. So I want to be able to enjoy that. I just want to get to know my family all over again . . . I gotta make up for some lost time.”
 

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Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

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Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

We have seen the Boston Celtics reach deep into their bench this season, but nothing like what we’ll see tonight against the Chicago Bulls.

Along with Gordon Hayward (left ankle fracture) who is out for the season and Marcus Morris (left knee rehabilitation) who was ruled out for tonight’s game prior to last night’s win at Detroit, the Celtics will be without at least one of their two remaining all-star players.

Kyrie Irving has been ruled out due to a left quad contusion. And Al Horford, who briefly went to the Celtics’ locker room after a knee-to-knee collision with Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver, is question for tonight’s game with a right knee contusion.

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Horford was able to return to the Celtics’ lineup following the knee-on-knee blow, finishing with a near double-double of 18 points and nine rebounds to go with six assists.

If both Irving and Horford are unable to go, that leaves Boston void of its best scorer (Irving) and most complete player (Horford).

You have to wonder in the case of Horford, whether tonight’s opponent may factor in the decision to sit him or not.

Chicago (5-20) has the worst record in the NBA this season. And while the Celtics respect all opponents, if they are going to give guys some “strategic rest” in season, this would qualify as one of those nights considering the opponent in addition to knowing there won’t be any practice or a game tomorrow (the Celtics, like most teams, take the day off when they play back-to-back games).

We know Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and most likely Aron Baynes will be in the starting lineup. Beyond that, you're probably looking at Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier filling in for Irving, while Horford’s possible replacement will likely be from the trio of Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye or potentially Guerschon Yabusele.

Smart (four starts, 3-1 record) and Theis (two starts, 2-0 record) are the only ones from that group to have been in the starting lineup this season. 

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C's thriving on road, look to keep trend going vs lowly Bulls

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C's thriving on road, look to keep trend going vs lowly Bulls

The Boston Celtics have spent a good chunk of the season playing away from the TD Garden which as we’ve seen, hasn’t been a bad thing.

Boston has an 11-3 road record this season, and are just one of three teams (Houston and Golden State) with double-digit road wins this season.

And while there’s no such thing as a given, the Celtics have to feel pretty good about their chances of getting road win No. 12 tonight against the Chicago Bulls (5-20) who are at the opposite end of the success spectrum this season.

Indeed, the Bulls – owners of the worst record in the NBA now – are a radically different team from the one that jumped out to a 2-0 series lead in their first-round playoff series last spring before the Celtics bounced back to win the next four to close out the series and eventually advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

The key in that series for the Celtics was their ability to win on the road (it didn’t hurt their chances that Rajon Rondo, a key to Chicago winning Games 1 and 2 in Boston, was unable to play in the last four games of the series due to injury). 

But as good as that team was, this season’s Celtics team seems more equipped to find success on the road in part because they have so many interchangeable parts up and down the roster.

And just as important, there’s more of a matter-of-fact mindset to what they do rather than feeling the need to prove themselves in comparison to other elite teams in the NBA.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines heading into tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.

 

ROOKIE STANDOUTS

There has been a lot of talk about Jayson Tatum’s breakout rookie season, but the Bulls have a star on the rise as well from the 2017 NBA draft class in Lauri Markkanen. Tatum leads the NBA – not just rookies, but the entire league – in 3-point shooting (51.8 percent) and averages 14 points per game. Markkanen, draft with the seventh overall pick by Minnesota (but traded to Chicago as part of the Jimmy Butler deal), averages 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds which ranks fifth and second, respectively, among rookies. 

 

GOING BACK TO BACK 

This will be Boston’s fourth back-to-back this season. On the second night, the Celtics are 2-1 with the lone loss being Oct. 18 against Milwaukee which was the second game of the season along with the first game for Boston without Gordon Hayward following his season-ending left ankle injury. 

 

UP AND DOWN SHOOTING

There’s a certain ebb and flow all teams are looking for with their offense, but this is not what the Celtics had in mind when talking about shooting. After failing to shoot 50 percent or better in their first 20 games, the Celtics strung together five straight in which they reached the 50 percent or better mark. However, they are back to how they began the season, shooting less than 50 percent in each of their last three games.

 

TATUM CLIMBING THE CHARTS 

The 6-foot-8 rookie has scored in double figures 16 straight games. The last first-year player for Boston to have that many consecutive double-digit scoring games was Antoine Walker who reeled off 20 in a row in 1997.

 

SMART PASSES

There’s an obsession almost with fans when it comes to Marcus Smart and his shooting. But the stat that fans really need to keep an eye on is his assists total. Boston has a 13-1 record this season when Smart tallies five or more assists.

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