Here's to 40 for The Truth

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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 rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Highlights: Boston Celtics 112, Miami Heat 108

Highlights: Boston Celtics 112, Miami Heat 108

Highlights as the Boston Celtics are able to hold off the Miami Heat and get the win 112-108 at the TD Garden.

Win vs. Heat puts Celtics in virtual tie with Cavs for first place in East

Win vs. Heat puts Celtics in virtual tie with Cavs for first place in East

BOSTON – Location, location, location.

The Boston Celtics are seemingly where they want to be following their 112-108 win Sunday night over Miami, a victory that put the Celtics (48-26, .649 winning percentage) in a virtual tie with defending NBA champ Cleveland (47-25, .652).

But position means very little without purposeful play, something the Celtics are gradually doing more of than not.

And because of that, they find themselves one strong finish to the season away from going into the playoffs with the top overall record in the East for the first time since 2008 – the year they brought home Banner 17.

While few anticipate the Celtics will advance to the NBA Finals, they have at least positioned themselves to have a shot at making a good run during the postseason if they can secure home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The last time the top overall top seed in the East failed to make it past the first round was in 2012 when the Chicago Bulls were eliminated by the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, a series that was marred by injuries to Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah that created a much smoother pathway for the upstart Sixers to move on to the second round where they were defeated by Boston in seven games.

And while the players have tried to downplay the significance of landing the top seed in the East, there’s no question it’s something that they know all too well is within their reach.

Cleveland has a much tougher schedule to close out the season, one that includes a matchup at San Antonio on Monday night, a Spurs team that’s fighting for the top spot out West as well with Golden State.

The Celtics players have talked often about wanting to be in the best position possible going into the playoffs.

Having the top seed?

Yup.

That’ll do it.

And while Celtics players were aware of where the team was in relation to Cleveland, being tied for the top spot with the Cavs isn’t something that Boston is getting too giddy about right now.

“We hear it, but that wasn’t our focus (against Miami),” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “Our focus was to come in, get another game, keep that momentum going before we start the playoffs.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said not a word was spoken in the locker room after Sunday’s win about the team now being in a virtual tie with the Cavs.

“I think – I talked about this earlier – obviously the guys, because they get … most of them to be honest, because they’re asked so much, some of them obviously have already said they watch it pretty closely,” Stevens said. “But I’ve tried to say, ‘Hey, it’s about playing as well as we can …”

That and location, location, location.