It can be easy to forget about Old Reliable. But tonight, Paul Pierce was there when the Celtics needed him most.
Pierce led the Celtics with 27 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds in a 113-110 win against Philadelphia. He was so effective that Celtics coach Doc Rivers felt the need to keep him on the floor for every second of the second half.
“Paul, to me, was the savior of the game,” said Rivers. “I played him way too many minutes (42), but you do that every once in a while…the best play he made was the charge.”
The charge Rivers was referring to was the one Pierce took on Andre Iguodala with 34.3 seconds left and the Celtics up 107-105. A score on that play would have done more than tie the game: It would have shifted the momentum, possibly irreversibly, to the Sixers.
“That’s what we talk about,” said Pierce. “If the charge is there…that’s pretty much the only thing I could have done was take the charge. Iguodala’s coming at you full speed. He’s so athletic when he gets in the air. I’m not going to block his shot, so I just tried to stand in there and take the charge.”
Rivers said he didn’t plan to play Pierce for the entire second half, but he praised the poise of his captain.
“He’s been MVP to me,” said Rivers. “Not even just with his play. He got on our guys during the second quarter and at halftime about our play, about the defensive urgency. He told them to stop making excuses. He’s the one that’s not.”
Said Kevin Garnett, “Tonight was all about Paul Pierce’s will on the game.”