ATLANTA If the Celtics are going to make the kind of end-of-the-season push they want to, chances are Paul Pierce will be a major cog in that effort.
But the captain can't do much if he's on the bench, a place that he has become far too familiar with lately.
Pierce fouled out of Boston's 98-91 loss at Denver on Saturday, and was in foul trouble before finishing with five fouls in Boston's 79-76 win at Atlanta on Monday.
Pierce had not fouled out all season before the Denver game, andhe only had one game (Jan. 22 at Washington) in which he was whistled for five personal fouls.
"I'm just getting caught with some tough calls that could go either way," Pierce said. "That's about it. I'm not worried about it."
Worrying about it won't do him or the Celtics any good.
But it is something he needs to be mindful of during this critical stretch of play for the short-handed Celtics.
While Pierce may not be worried, the same can not be said for his head coach, Doc Rivers.
It's one thing to pick up fouls that prevent easy scores, but Rivers sees many of Pierce's recent fouls, as being "silly."
"You just can't pick up silly fouls," Rivers said. "Three of his five (against Atlanta) were bad. I'm trying to get our team to understand, we don't have a margin for error."
Jermaine O'Neal (wrist) and Chris Wilcox (heart condition) are both out for the season, while a number of other Celtic players are battling an assortment of bumps and bruises.
And it's not just Pierce who has picked up bad fouls lately.
Against the Hawks, Rivers recalled a conversation he had with Kevin Garnett shortly after Garnett picked up an early foul in which he wrapped up an Atlanta player.
"I said, 'Kevin, we don't have fouls to give," Rivers recalled. "We're not 12-deep right now."
Rivers added, "We keep talking about it, but then you don't want to get in their way. You want them to play. Paul sets those open court picks for Rajon Rondo. He gets a (personal foul) call on that, and then he charges two, maybe three times."