Celtics

Pierce turns playmaker to help Celtics beat Brooklyn

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Pierce turns playmaker to help Celtics beat Brooklyn

LOS ANGELES -- There was a time when if Paul Pierce scored eight points, it was a sure-fire recipe for defeat for the Celtics.

And while the 35-year-old veteran has shown recently that he can still score with the best of them on any given night, sometimes he'll have to pass -- literally and figuratively -- on playing the role of Boston's best scorer.

Pierce was very much in the giving mood on Christmas Day, handing out a game-high 10 assists in helping the Celtics to a 93-76 win at Brooklyn.

It was Pierce's first double-digit assist game this season, and 23rd of his career.

"I tell you guys all the time, I try to give the game what I feel it needs," Pierce said.

For the bulk of his career, Pierce had little choice but to score in order for the Celtics to have any shot at success.

But as the C's added more talented pieces to surround him, he has shown more of an all-around game in recent years which has elevated his status to that of being more than just a scorer.

And when Pierce has been in a pass-first mode, the Celtics have been extremely successful.

In the 23 games in which Pierce has had 10 or more assists, the Celtics are an impressive 18-5 which includes the C's winning the last nine such games.

Pierce will be the first to acknowledge that like most veterans who have established themselves as perennial all-stars, he's always in search of the next big challenge.

And as much as he loves to score, Pierce seems to find just as much joy in racking up assists -- especially when it leads to a victory.

But against the Nets, Pierce said his passing was more a function of how Brooklyn was defending him.

Defending Pierce is always a high priority for every team that faces the Celtics, but the Captain has been in a nice groove the last couple of games offensively.

He came into the Christmas Day game averaging 30.3 points in Boston's last three games which included a 40-point effort against Cleveland that made him the oldest player in franchise history to score 40 or more points in a game.

"The last couple games, I've been able to put up some pretty big numbers scoring, but that's not what we needed (against Brooklyn)," Pierce said. "I was able to really focus in on making that extra pass. They were zoning in on me, I felt, on defense."

And rather than force the action, Pierce simply re-directed his focus to being more of a playmaker.

"That's the way I like to play," said Pierce who is averaging a team-best 20.5 points per game this season. "I don't have to go in every game thinking I have to score 25 or 30 points."

With injuries to both ankles, Smart unlikely to play tonight

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With injuries to both ankles, Smart unlikely to play tonight

PHILADELPHIA – Things have only gotten worse for the Celtics on the injury front.
 
Marcus Smart, who replaced an injured Gordon Hayward (left ankle) in the Celtics’ starting lineup, is now unlikely to suit up for tonight’s game against Philadelphia.

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Smart, whose left ankle was heavily wrapped prior to Boston’s shoot-around this morning, said he rolled both ankles in the 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he had not made a decision on who would replace Smart in the Celtics’ starting lineup tonight.
 
“We’ll do some work all day and pre-game and make a final determination,” Stevens said.
 
More to come …