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.