Pierce understands, ignores rumors

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Pierce understands, ignores rumors

BOSTON Paul Pierce has been in the league long enough to know that trade rumors are part of the business.

Most of the time, you brush it off as just one of those things you have to deal with.

But with the Celtics continuing to struggle, Pierce understands all too well that he or any of his teammates could be shipped out between now and the March 15 trade deadline.

In his first comments since a report about teams inquiring about his availability via trade, Pierce refuseD to let such talk bother him or be a distraction.

"You can't pay attention to that," he said after the Celts' 79-71 loss to the Phoenix Suns Friday night. "That's part of the business. You just gotta do your job as a professional each and every day. That's about it."

But that's the problem.

The C's aren't doing their jobs - which is to win - with any kind of regularity.

Friday's loss dropped the Celtics (5-9) to four games below .500, continuing what has been an unprecedented season of struggles for the Green team.

Players have made no secret about wanting to keep the Big Three intact.

You would think all the trade talk would serve as added motivation for Pierce, who has said on more than one occasion that he wants to retire a Celtic and would like to see this core group stay together.

But he admits all the trade talk doesn't make him want to step his game up for that reason.

"What makes me want to play well," Pierce said, "is our record. That's more than anything."

And while he is well aware that his name and those of his teammates have been making the rounds on the trade rumor mill, his focus remains on who he's playing with.

"I don't really read the papers," he said. "I don't really monitor everything that's been said. I'm just more concerned about this group, what goes on in this locker room and with my teammates."

He added, "I'm just concerned with the boys in this room."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.