Pierce's knee '90-percent', excited for upcoming season


Pierce's knee '90-percent', excited for upcoming season

Paul Pierce has been almost as quiet as Kevin Garnett has since the Celtics lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat.

But the captain sat down with Celtics.com's Molly McGrath recently to talk all things Celtics, including his health and the state of the team going into next season.

Pierce has every right to be proud of the way the team played in the second half and in the playoffs, but he notes that injuries eventually became their ultimate downfall. The loss of Chris Wilcox, Avery Bradley, and yes, even Jermaine O'Neal added up. Jeff Green missed the season, too. And Ray Allen and Pierce were both hobbled throughout the postseason.

Pierce admitted that his sprained MCL bothered him over the last "10 to 15 games" in the postseason, but it's improving.

"The knee is a lot better," Pierce said. "It's not completely healed, but I figure I'm about 90-percent now so I've bend owing a lot of things to strengthen it so I can come back a stronger player. It really hampered me the last 10 to 15 games of the year, I couldn't explode like I wanted to. But everybody is hurt at that point in the year, everybody is dealing with some kind of nagging injury. So that's why I didn't really ponder too much on it or express upon it too much during the playoffs because I know everybody is dealing with injuries and I know that's just another excuse."

With Pierce expected to be healthy going into the season, the C's look like top contenders in the East with the re-signings and additions to the squad. Count Pierce as thrilled with the new-look C's.

"I love what Danny's been able to do," Pierce said. "It was a tough decision this summer. I know a lot was riding on what direction we were going to head and I think it was domino effect. Once we signed Kevin we knew we were going to try to make another run at it. Once we signed him a number of guys were able to jump on board. I thought Danny did a good job of trying to replace Ray Allen. As you know, Ray Allen went off to Miami on his choice. But he was a great teammate, it was fun playing with him. But I think the guys that are coming in here with Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, trying to get a healthy Jeff Green, even some of our rookies, I think we've added a lot more depth and it's going to really take a lot of pressure off of me I think this upcoming season."

It should also take some pressure off of Garnett, a player the Celtics made sure to target first and foremost the second they were allowed to. KG's agreement to a three-year deal signaled that Boston wasn't ready to roll over and die -- quite the opposite actually.

"He's everything to us moving forward and trying to win a championship," Pierce said of Garnett. "If you don't bring Kevin back then you never know what direction the team is going to head in. You're probably talking about rebuilding, they probably would have looked to trade me at some point. There were rumors throughout the season when we weren't playing well. So just having Kevin back really told everybody what direction we want to head in and moving forward and trying to win another championship.

Beyond the numbers: The dual threat of Avery Bradley


Beyond the numbers: The dual threat of Avery Bradley

BOSTON – Another year, another season in which Avery Bradley plans to showcase a new and improved skill that will benefit the Boston Celtics.
But with each improved skill, Bradley moves just that much closer to being an all-around, two-way talent that creates problems for teams at both ends of the floor.
We all know about Bradley’s defense, which was good enough to land him a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive first team last season. He also gets props for steadily improving his game offensively in some area every summer, but defenses might have their hands full more than ever with Bradley.
According to NBA stats guru Dick Lipe, the 6-foot-2 Bradley was the only guard in the NBA last season to shoot better than 70 percent in the restricted area among players who took a minimum of 200 field goal attempts.
He is among a list that includes Los Angeles Clippers big men DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin; Miami’s Hassan Whiteside; current teammate and former Atlanta Hawk Al Horford; San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge; Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Atlanta big man Dwight Howard.
But if you’re thinking about keeping him away from that part of the floor, Bradley also made the 3-point shot a bigger part of his offensive game last season; as in, 40 percent of his shots came from beyond the 3-point line.

Having that kind of diversity makes him a difficult player to get a clear read on how to defend. And because of that, it may open things up even more so for his teammates.
Bradley can shoot from the perimeter; he can score close to the rim. His ball-handling skills have improved in the offseason to where it no longer looks as though it’s a major weakness.
And he defends at a level few players in the league can match.
Collectively it makes Bradley one of the many challenges awaiting teams whenever they face the Celtics, a player who is poised to showcase his diverse set of skills beginning tonight against the Brooklyn Nets. 

Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue


Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue

Tonight’s pregame number to watch is 45.4%. That was the Celtics' score frequency on pick and rolls finished by the screener last season, which was the worst rate in the NBA.

Score Frequency: The percentage of possession in which the team or player scores at least 1 point.

The major problem for the Celtics last season was personnel, as Jared Sullinger finished the most pick and roll plays for the C’s after setting a screen, and he was -- to put it nicely -- freaking terrible. Sullinger was the second-worst roll/pop man in the league, averaging a paltry 0.87 points per possession.

Fortunately, the Celtics replaced Jared Sullinger with four-time All-Star Al Horford, who is one of the elite roll/pop men in the NBA. Last season, Horford finished fifth in the NBA averaging 1.13 points per possession as a roll/pop man and boasted a more than solid 57.1 eFG% on those plays. 

eFG% (Effective Field Goal Percentage): Measures field goal percentage adjusting for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. The equation is ((FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA

If you watched the preseason, then you already know the kind of impact Horford can have on the Celtics half court offense. So keep an eye out for those pick and rolls tonight and throughout the season, and we should see that 45.4% Score Frequency jump somewhere closer to 50%.