CHICAGO Much of the Boston Celtics' slower-than-expected start has been attributed to the new guys and their understanding and implementation of the team's defensive principles.
But that doesn't explain why Paul Pierce has been so up and down thus far this season.
After alternating lackluster scoring nights with impressive performances throughout Boston's first four games, Pierce has looked like himself in the last two games.
He was especially impressive on Saturday in tallying 25 points in Boston's win over Milwaukee.
Pierce attributes some of his inconsistent play to still figuring out and getting accustomed to the changes in the C's offense this season.
"I'm starting to get a better rhythm, starting to understand where my shots are going to come from in the offense," Pierce said. "We changed a lot of things in the offense this year."
Especially in terms of his role. The 6-foot-8 wing is accustomed to having a steady dose of plays involving him isolating a player, or taking them down into the paint. But those plays, while still a part of what the Celtics do with Pierce, aren't as plentiful this season.
"Before, I probably posted up a lot more," Pierce said.
Now, he says he spends more time on the perimeter in addition to, "coming off screens a lot more than I have in the past."
Because of his perimeter-shooting skills, this allows him to put more stress on a team defensively with them unsure if he's looking to score on a jumper, drive to the basket or set teammates up.
While it does require him to move without the ball more than usual, fewer post-ups means less of a pounding for his body to absorb. And that can lead to results like the ones seen Saturday night when Pierce was fresh as can be in leading the Celtics in the game's final minutes.
"Paul's a Hall of Fame player," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles. "They (Celtics) spread the floor a couple times and Paul got it going."
Against the Bucks, it seemed Pierce's strong second half was fueled by a baseline, two-handed dunk just seconds into the third quarter.
"l'm a scorer," Pierce said. "Once I see a basket go in or a couple easy ones, that can light my fire. I just played within the flow of the game. Guys were finding me, I got a good rhythm going. I mixed it up with drives, jumpers. That's the way I play."