Celtics

Boston runs through Paul Pierce's blood

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Boston runs through Paul Pierce's blood

BOSTON – If the Paul Pierce jersey retirement ceremony on Sunday is anything like Saturday’s press conference in his honor, those in attendance should prepare to bring some tissue because tears of joy are sure to be in order for many – Pierce included.

“To see all the people, and be with all the people who helped me on this journey to get to this point to where I finally put a close on my career and leave a legacy … it’s good to bring all those people in one room because it wasn’t me myself to get to this point," Pierce said. "It’s going to be great for me to acknowledge those people … it’s going to be emotional."

And full of stories recounting Pierce’s illustrious 15 years with the Boston Celtics, culminating with bringing home Banner 17 in 2008 which was the final piece to a stellar playing career.

Pierce remembers many days looking upwards at the practice facility and see the retired numbers of Celtics legends, hoping that he would be around the franchise long enough to where he too could be immortalized as one of the franchise’s all-time greats.

“That was inspiration,” Pierce said. “Those numbers, those banners. One day, I want to be up there.”

And he will on Sunday, becoming the first Celtic to have his number retired since Cedric Maxwell’s number 31 prior to the 2003-2004 season.

The fact that Maxwell’s number was retired and Pierce’s wasn’t, has been a running joke among the two for years.

“I’ve always been able to tell Paul, ‘you’re a pretty good player but your number’s not retired,’” Maxwell recalled. “So now I’m going to have to say something different, and it’s going to be a pleasure.”

Maxwell added, “There’s Springfield (the site of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame) … but you look up at the rafters and that is the real Hall of Fame.”

Pierce’s career numbers rank among the best ever by a Celtics player, but it was the team’s 2008 title that elevated him from being a good player in Boston to an iconic legend.

But his impact extended far beyond the court.

Celtics assistant coach Jamie Young shared a story about one of his early interactions with Pierce.

“One story about Paul that a lot of people don’t know, is when we traded for Kevin (Garnett), my dad passed away that same day,” said Young who was then an assistant video coordinator. “And Paul actually begged me to pay for the funeral. And I was against it at first, but he ended up doing that.”

It was one of the many examples of how the Boston Celtics were more than just the city he resided in and the team he played for.

They were his family.

NBC Sports Boston’s Mike Gorman recounted one of his early encounters with Pierce.

“Paul and I had this little secret,” Gorman said. “He said, ‘before every game, could you tell me the names of the officials so I can communicate with them?’ I said, ‘sure.’ So before every game he would give me a hug and I would say something like Joe … and Sam, and Sam’s the white guy.’ And I watch and he’d go, ‘Sam, how you doing? Good to see you tonight. Joe, how you doing? So that was my link with Paul in getting him set for the officials for every game.”

And there were more stories from others like ex-teammate Antoine Walker, or Celtics legend Robert Parish who believes Pierce is the greatest offensive Celtic to ever play – better than Larry Bird and John Havlicek.

“I just feel that Paul was more creative, he was a better scorer than Bird or John Havlicek,” Parish said. “I think Havlicek and Larry and Paul were probably the best offensive players the Celtics ever had. I think Paul tops that list.”

Where Pierce ranks among the best scorers in Celtics history is a debate for another day.

One thing that isn’t up for discussion is the fact that Pierce has earned a place among the greatest Celtics to ever play the game.

And while asking Pierce about being among the all-time greats like Bill Russell, Havlicek, Bob Cousy …

“I know wow! That’s crazy,” Pierce said.

Crazy?

Maybe once upon a time.

But more than anything else, it’s real.

You wouldn’t expect any less from the Truth, right?

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Smart helps Celtics end three-game losing skid

Smart helps Celtics end three-game losing skid

There were Boston Celtics who had more points, rebounds and assists than Marcus Smart. 

But make no mistake about it. 

The Boston Celtics are a better team with Smart’s return, evident by them cruising to a 110-98 win over Detroit. 

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Smart was part of a strong second unit, tallying 12 points in his first game back after missing the previous 11 due to a laceration on his right hand that required 20 stitches to close after he punched a picture frame last month. 

“I felt great,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston following the game. “This training staff did a good job of making sure I was still in shape and ready come back when I did come back.”

Within minutes of entering the game, Smart drained a 3-pointer which was part of a Celtics’ 3-point barrage in which they were collectively 17-for-39 on 3’s.

Said Boston’s Daniel Theis: “He (Smart) was great for us today.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-98 win over Detroit. 

 

STARS

Daniel Theis: The 25-year-old rookie came up with one big hustle play after another. And when all was said and done, he had a career-high 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting to go with seven rebounds.

Ish Smith: For most of the night, he was the best player on the floor for the Detroit Pistons. He would lead Detroit with 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting along with six assists. 

Celtics bench: This was one of the best games we’ve seen from Boston’s backups. Along with doing a solid job defensively, the Celtics’ bench absolutely dominated the game scoring the ball. For the night, they had a season-high 65 points scored.

 

STUDS

Kyrie Irving: Irving did not have the monster game offensively, and the reason was clear: they didn’t need it. He had 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting which included four made 3’s, not to mention six assists.

Andre Drummond: He got off to a slow start, but Drummond’s play around the rim really picked up after the first quarter as he finished with a double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds.

 

DUDS

Blake Griffin: He had 17 points, but he was non-factor most of the game courtesy of some really strong play defensively by Al Horford. Griffin shot just 5-for-19 from the field and turned the ball over six times. 

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Hayward one step closer to joining Celtics on road trips

Hayward one step closer to joining Celtics on road trips

Gordon Hayward’s return to the Boston Celtics remains a hot topic of discussion, with the C's insisting they plan to have him back next season while Hayward has continued to do all he can to make his return a speedy one. 

The next step in a possible return this season involves Hayward traveling with the team which according to head coach Brad Stevens, is not imminent.

“It doesn’t look like it’s any time in the next couple of weeks,” Stevens told reporters.

Between now and then, Hayward will continue his rehabilitation program which includes the use of an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill which helps athletes in terms of conditioning in a non or limited, weight-bearing capacity.

“He’s gonna do another Alter-G starting on Sunday where he goes from 60 percent of his body weight all the way to 100,” Stevens said. “Once he can do stuff where he is running or jumping, then it makes (sense) to bring him on the road.”

Hayward suffered a dislocated left ankle injury five minutes into Boston’s season-opener at Cleveland on Oct. 17. Shortly after the injury, the Celtics anticipated him not returning this season, a position that was confirmed by them being granted a disabled player exception which is awarded in part because independent doctors determined that the injury would “likely” keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. 

But Hayward has been aggressive in rehabbing from the injury to the point where there’s still a slim glimmer of hope that he may be able to return this season. 

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