On 30-point games and playoff momentum

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On 30-point games and playoff momentum

Earlier this morning, I was flipping through some of Paul Pierces old playoff games on Basketball-Reference and came across a relatively meaningless, but still interesting statistic.

Ready?

Over the entirety of his 14-year career, Pierce has scored 30 points in consecutive playoff games only once.

Slightly shocking, no?

The consecutive efforts came in the first two games of Boston's 2003 series with New Jersey.

In Game 1 (which was played nine years ago tomorrow), Pierce had 34 points, eight assists, five rebounds, four steals, two blocks and eight turnovers.

In Game 2, Pierce messed around with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

(Pretty great, except that the Celtics lost both games on their way to being swept by Jason Kidd, Brian Scalabrine and the far-more-talented Nets. Also, the only other constant between that Nets series and this Hawks series? Jason Collins was New Jersey's starting center.)

And that's it. That's the only time over the course of 112 career playoff games that the Captain has broken 30 in consecutive outings. And I have no other commentary except that I imagined it would be more. (By unfair comparison, LeBron has done it 20 times in 95 playoffs games, including two four-game streaks and a five-gamer.)

Tonight at the Garden, Pierce will try to do it again.

In theory.

In reality, with Rondo (and maybe even Ray Allen) back in the mix, the Celtics don't need Pierce to carry them like he did on Tuesday. There's no way he'll take as many shots (his 26 field goal attempts in Game 2 were a new personal playoff high), or play as many minutes. Honestly, I'd say it's just as likely that Pierce scores 15-16 points as it as that he drops another 30.

Then again, if Rondo decides to make a run at 20 assists, and if Pierce is feeling fresh and energized by the home crowd

Man, isn't crazy how one game can change everything?

When the Celtics took the court on Tuesday, the situation was bleak. No one had ruled out the possibility of them stealing that game from the Hawks, but the overall vibe just looked and felt so helpless.

All it took was one victory, and now everything is calm and confident.

One victory, and we're right back to writing off the Hawks as pretenders, and looking ahead to Philly or Chicago.

One victory, and I spent the morning casually perusing box score porn and contemplating 30-point games instead of sitting in a dark room, pining over the end of a historic era of Celtics basketball.

It's wild.

But through all the calm and confidence, we never lose sight of of the fact that it only takes one loss to for it to all come crumbling down. That it doesn't matter if Ray Allen plays or Josh Smith doesn't because nothing is for sure in the NBA playoffs.

We know that.

More importantly, the Celtics know that. And with a surely-psychotic Rondo leading the way, and the Garden crowd just waiting to explode, you have to feel good about the C's taking care of business.

As for Pierce dropping another 30-spot?

Eh, not so much.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


 

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
 
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
 
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
 
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
 
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
 
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
 
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
 
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
 
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
 
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”