BOSTON -- Sidelined for the past five games with a sprained right wrist, Rajon Rondo has been forced to watch his team from a distance.
Without their floor leader and top ball handler, how would they respond?
The answer has been a four-game winning streak, one in which Paul Pierce has stepped up as the team's top distributor. Pierce has dished a total of 41 assists (average 8.2 per game) in this stretch without Rondo on the court.
Its not easy to make that transition from still scoring and running the point and rebounding, Rondo told CSNNE.com following the Celtics 94-87 win over the Indiana Pacers. Hes Mr. Everything right now for us, and thats what we need.
Pierce recorded eight assists on Friday night. Although he pointed out his turnovers have also increased, he is taking on the role of getting his teammates open shots.
I have to make more plays now that Rondos out, he said. Usually Im the recipient of a lot of Rondos passes, but with him out Im taking on some part in that role. Its just up to me to be responsible, when to know when to find guys and have a balance on when to score.
Pierce will look to continue his interim role while Rondo gets healthy. The point guard was vague about his expected return, offering, I am going to play -- one day. Maybe like next -- hopefully before All-Star Break. Thats my goal, to come back before All-Star. Im going to try to get February, like my birthday, like before Oklahoma.
After missing the first three games of the regular season himself, Pierce says he is feeling "83.7" percent healthy.
Im getting there," he said. "Im really getting used to the soreness of the playing and getting used to the back-to-backs. Usually in back-to-back situations, a few weeks ago I probably wouldnt have been able to play in this game, in the fourth game in five nights because of how my body was feeling after these games. But Im really getting used to it, Im really conditioned for these games to where its not really affecting me. Doc is doing a great job of giving us the rest in these type of situations.