Captain Paul Pierce individually is having a solid year.
The Celtics however have had far from a stellar season up to this point. Paul Pierce has had to put his leadership skills of being the team captain to the test to help the struggling Celtics get through this tough stretch. This is Pierce’s 15th season with the Celtics so he is no rookie when it comes to working through adversity and expressing leadership to the team. He has been through the worst of the worst when the team was 24-58 in the 2006-2007 season to the best it can get when they won the championship in the 2007-2008 season.
The Celtics have struggled this year and just came off of a horrible losing streak last week but were able to snap that with a big win last Friday over the Indiana Pacers. They have been able to string together four straight wins which is their biggest win streak this season.
They did all this behind the leadership from their captain, Paul Pierce. Before the game against Indiana, Pierce told his team to survey the East. “It’s not one team out there that we feel like we can’t beat. If you look at the elite teams and we can compete with them, then why can’t we compete with these other teams that come in here like the Milwaukee’s like the team that came in here tonight, like the last game we played against the Memphis Grizzlies,” said Pierce. “I just wanted to keep the confidence in the locker room going and help them understand that when we want to, we can be this type of team.” The Celtics came out and put up their strongest defensive stand of the season and allowed the first place team in the Central division to just 75 points.
Trying to keep the momentum going, the Celtics were off to Atlanta to face the Hawks. They didn’t come out with the same fire however as they did against Indiana and found themselves trailing 46-27 in the second quarter. Their defense looked as bad as it did when they lost four straight games.
At half time before the team took to the floor Pierce brought the team together and noted after the game he recalled:
“I just said we want to bring the fight to them, I think we were kind of bickering at each other a little too much, figuring out what kind of defense we run and that was a little bit too much. I just had to say the fight ain’t against one another, it’s against the team out there on the court. When we realize that, we can play some ball. We stepped up that third quarter and we played the type of ball we know how to play”
The leadership Paul Pierce provided to the team through the struggle proved to be successful in bringing the team together and motivating them to step it up. The Celtics came out with fire in the second half and went on a 14-1 run. Pierce then proved his all-star abilities and led the team scoring 17 of his 26 points in the third quarter. The Celtics completed the comeback and edged the Hawks 89-81.
After the game Avery Bradley acknowledged the impact Paul Pierce had on the team at half time. “Paul came in here and let us know about ourselves. That’s why you saw us come out hyped, our bench was hyped, we were hyped. That’s the way we play and that’s how we need to play from the start of the game,” said Bradley.
On Monday nights ago the C’s won their third straight game against the Knicks who are in first place in the Atlantic Division with a 23-11 record. They snuck by New York by a score of 102-96 with Rondo sitting out the game due to the much publicized one game suspension he received from the game before.
Wednesday night the Celtics extended their sreak to four straight wins. They beat the Suns 87-79 at the Garden. The C’s were led by their bench who scored 47 of the team’s 87 points. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger led the charge off the bench. Green scored 14 points and Sullinger had a double double with 12 points and a career high 16 rebounds.
The leadership that Paul Pierce showed and the motivation and determination that he was able to instill into his teammates led the Celtics to these three straight wins. Pierce proves to be a vital part to the team and a great leader and veteran that knows what it takes to be successful in the NBA.