Here's to 40 for The Truth


Here's to 40 for The Truth

Last night at the Garden, Paul Pierce turned back the clock and dropped 40 points on the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was the 21st 40-point outing of his career the 24th if you count the playoffs but I was surprised by how rarely it's happened over the last few years.

Do you realize that last night was only Pierce's third 40-point game since 2006?

Most recently, he had 43 in a loss to the Knicks last April. Before that, there was the 41 he dropped on LeBron in Game 7 of the 2008 playoffs.

Before that? You have to go all the way back to February 15, 2006 (against Cleveland again) for his last 40-point game. That feels like a long time. That is a long time.

And I guess that's just what happens when players get older. Unless you're Kobe or Jordan, the ability andor need to dominate just isn't what it used to be and the 40-point performances slowly start to disappear. And that's certainly been the case with Paul.

But with that being said, I don't know if we can call last night a throwback Paul Pierce performance. I don't think should make reference to him "turning back the clock" (even though I already did). That's because, in reality, this wasn't 23-year-old Pierce dropping an all around 40-point frenzy on an unsuspecting opponent (like he did EIGHT times during the 2000-01 season), instead this was 2012 Pierce older, wiser, more crafty and methodical.

Last night, Pierce attempted only 16 shots, which is the fewest he's ever had in a 40-point game. He attempted eight free throws, which is the second fewest he's ever had in a 40 point game. His six three-pointers were the most he's ever made in a 40-point game. Lastly, last night was only the fourth time that Pierce has scored 40 in fewer than 40 minutes, and he's never done it in fewer than the 34 minutes he played last night.

That's not old school. That's just school.

That's Pierce's game these says.

And last night it was better than ever.

Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

WATCH: Celtics vs. Nets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Nets

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Celtics' goal in season opener vs. Nets: 'Let's just be us'


Celtics' goal in season opener vs. Nets: 'Let's just be us'

BOSTON --  It’s almost impossible not to look at tonight’s Boston-Brooklyn game and not think about where each franchise is currently, and how their statuses are directly bound with one another.
The Brooklyn Nets are preaching patience with their fan base in part because of the 2013 multi-player trade they made with the Celtics that has included them sending a slew of picks Boston’s way.
Meanwhile, the Celtics are a franchise on the rise not only because of the talent it currently has on the roster, but also the potential to add even more difference-making players to the mix courtesy of picks that they will get from Brooklyn in the coming years.
Players for both teams aren’t thinking about their respective franchise’s futures.
Instead, their focus will be on tonight’s game, one in which the Celtics will be heavily favored.
“I’ve been ready [to play],” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “I’ve been ready for the preseason to be over and things to start counting.”
And the season begins with a familiar foe, one that the Celtics have already played twice in the preseason with another four matchups beginning tonight, during the season.
While the Nets are expected to be among the league’s worst teams while the Celtics are predicted to finish near the top of Eastern Conference standings, there’s at least one Celtic who isn’t convinced seeing the Nets so many times is a good thing.
“It’s hard to play teams . . . the more you play them it's like the tougher it is [to win],” Thomas said. “At the same time, they know what we like to do and we know what they like to do. You have to leave it all out there on the floor. Like [coach Brad Stevens) said, ‘Let’s just be us.’ ”
Being themselves more than anything else means delivering a devastating defensive punch, the kind that kept Boston among the NBA’s top defenses a year ago.
The Celtics finished the season with a defensive rating of 100.9 which was the fourth-best in the NBA.
And the mindset among several players is that as good as they were a year ago, the potential of this team defensively is even greater.
One of the keys to that optimism is Al Horford, the longtime Atlanta Hawk who signed a four-year, $113 million contract with the Celtics this summer when he became a free agent.
Horford is a four-time All-Star in part because of his versatility as a defender. Stevens envisions the 6-foot-10 Horford playing both power forward and center depending on the lineup he’s on the floor with at that time.
“He also improves are ability to play big or small,” Stevens said. “You can play him at the four (power forward) and play big, you can play him at the five (center). His mobility defensively and mobility to stretch the floor allows us to do both.”
And to think that as good as the Celtics are now, they are going to be able to add even more talent with a likely top-5 pick next year in the NBA draft courtesy of exercising their option to switch draft positions with the Nets.
Thomas has a lot on his mind heading into tonight’s game.
Increasing Boston’s chances of getting a high first-round pick from Brooklyn next year is not on the list, he says.
“I worry about scoring the ball, getting my teammates involved and winning games,” Thomas said. “I don’t know anything about those first-round picks.”
Thomas, the 60th and final player selected in the 2011 NBA draft added, “And I wasn’t a first-round pick so I don’t care about first-round picks.”