Pierce's latest milestone testament to his versatility


Pierce's latest milestone testament to his versatility

BOSTON -- For years Paul Pierce was looked to as the floor leader for the Celtics. In spite of being a forward -- not a point guard -- he was the veteran captain and one of the few players with proven experience on an otherwise young Celtics teams. In other years, he was the go-to guy on struggling squads.

It was not uncommon to see Pierce with the ball in his hand, managing the court and directing his teammates. He averaged a career-high 5.1 assists per game during the 2003-04 season in which the Celtics finished 36-46, and dished over four dimes per game for six straights seasons through the Celtics championship run in 2008.

That has changed since Rajon Rondo's emergence as one of the NBA's best passers and ball handlers (he leads the league with 12.8 assists per game). But Pierce still has it in him.

On Saturday Pierce picked up his 4,000th career assist while dishing a season-high nine helpers in the Celtics' win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Rondo led the game with 11.

"I thought my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball in the post area," Pierce said. "I recognized the double teams and I was able to find people, and that's how I got the majority of my assists tonight."

Now in this 15th season, 35-year-old Pierce still draws defenders and is a threat when left alone with an open shot. He is averaging a team-high 19.2 points this season and remains a threat in clutch situations. That alone opens up opportunities for him to stifle his opponents and find his teammates for a shot.

Pierce is posting 3.6 dimes per game this season, down from 4.5 last season, but he has that ability to get his teammates going on any given night. His keen recognition of the open man enhances the Celtics' ball distribution, giving them another strong option in addition to Rondo.

"It's a mixture of both," Rondo said of Pierce's assists. "Paul making the right play and guys finishing for him and making shots. He got trapped, he invited a double team, and he played unselfishly and moved the ball and guys made shots for us."

Pierce's career high is 14 assists again the Orlando Magic last season on April 18. He currently ranks 17th among all active players with 4,006 assists.

Patriots players got a refresher on NFL social media policy because of Brown

Patriots players got a refresher on NFL social media policy because of Brown

FOXBORO -- Antonio Brown's live stream of coach Mike Tomlin's postgame speech on Sunday had a ripple effect that traveled all the way to New England: Just in case Patriots players weren't familiar with the league's social-media policy, they were reminded of it this week. 

"We were reminded of that," receiver Chris Hogan said. "I’m not sure what the timing is, but obviously, I don’t think we’ll see guys doing that in the locker room."

Players are prohibited from using social media in the locker room until media outlets have been given an opportunity to talk to players following games. Brown's Facebook Live video, which garnered national attention almost as soon as it went online, was shot well before the visitor's locker room at Arrowhead Stadium opened following Pittsburgh's win over Kansas City.

"We have a team policy on that," special teams captain Matthew Slater said. "Strictly enforced. We go from there."

Of course part of the reason the video became as widely disseminated as it did was because it caught Tomlin calling the Patriots "a--holes."

"I have a lot of respect for Coach Tomlin," Slater said when asked about Tomlin's speech. "I appreciate the way he prepares his team. I’ve had a good working relationship with him over the years, and it will continue to be that way."

Both Slater and Hogan insisted that their focus will be trained solely on preparing for what Tomlin and his players will do when they arrive to Gillette Stadium Sunday night -- not what they say leading up to kickoff.

"You come in here, you're automatically bought into what we preach here, what coach [Bill] Belichick preaches," Hogan said. "It's football. We're 100 percent football here. It's not about anything outside. Between the media or whatever it is outside of football, whatever we're doing. When we come here, it's 100 percent football. That's all we're focused on is the opponent we're playing that week."