Pierce playing with pinched nerve

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Pierce playing with pinched nerve

BOSTON -- Paul Pierce has kept his discomfort under wraps.
The Boston Celtics captain said Wednesday night he has been playing this season with a pinched nerve in his neck.
Pierce has been battling through pain and stepping up while three teammates went down for the season.
"It's something that's been bothering me probably like the last two months," Pierce said after the Celtics 71-69 win over the Chicago Bulls. "It's getting better, though. The last couple of weeks, it's been better than it has been."
The Celtics are pushing forward without the injured Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, and Leandro Barbosa. Since Rondo suffered an ACL injury on January 25, Pierce has posted two triple-doubles and three double-doubles, bringing his season average up to 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game.
He struggled offensively on Wednesday, though, shooting 2-for-12 from the field (2-5 3PG). He posted 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists in 34 minutes.
When asked if Pierce had 'no legs' in the game, head coach Doc Rivers replied, "I don't think anyone did, I'm serious, on both teams. We're talking about our legs -- we won and scored 71 points. I just thought it was one of those games. As we all know, the last game before All-Star is a strange game."
Pierce is looking forward to the break before the Celtics head out on a west coast road trip next week. Once the C's do return to work, he hopes there will be more players available to help spell minutes.
I think its going to be necessary just for us to even have practice, probably have to add a guard, maybe another big man," he said. "We had walkthrough today and we had (former NBA guard) Tyronn Lue, one of our assistant coaches, out there participating in it. Most likely I think its going to be necessary just to have some depth maybe give me, Kevin (Garnett), Jason (Terry) some rest, especially during practices. Hopefully maybe they can contribute in a game."When it comes to team moves, he will leave it up to those in front office positions. His focus is helping the Celtics on the court.
"I'm just going to leave it up to them, him (Doc Rivers), Danny (Ainge)," he said. "They've got to get in there, come together this weekend, come up with the best available plan and work that out. Me? I'm going to take this time to rest, not really think about it, just leave it up to them."

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

Bradley's emergence as vocal leader speaks volumes about growth

BOSTON –  Terry Rozier was having a rough stretch where his minutes were limited and when he did play, he didn’t play particularly well.
 
Among the voices in his ear offering words of encouragement was Avery Bradley who knows all too well what Rozier was going through.
 
For all his time as a Celtic, Bradley has let his work on the floor do the talking for him.
 
But as the most tenured Celtic on the roster, his leadership has to be about more than just getting the job done, but servicing as a vocal leader as well.
 
For a player whose growth from one year to the next has been a constant, being a more vocal leader has been the one dynamic of his game that has improved the most during this past season.
 
And it is that kind of leadership that will carry into the summer what is a pivotal offseason for both Bradley and this Celtics franchise which was eliminated by Cleveland in the Conference finals, the first time the Celtics got that deep in the playoffs since 2012.
 
He is entering the final year of the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2014. And it comes at a time when his fellow Tacoma, Wash. native and backcourt mate Isaiah Thomas will likely hit free agency where he’s expected to command a max or near-max contract that would pay him an annual salary in the neighborhood of $30 million.
 
At this point in time, Bradley isn’t giving too much thought to his impending contract status.
 
Instead, he’s more consumed by finding ways to improve his overall game and in doing so, help guide the Celtics to what has to be their focus for next season – a trip to the NBA Finals.
 
While Celtics players have said their focus has always been on advancing as far into the playoffs as possible, it wasn’t until this past season did they actually provide hope and promise that Banner 18 may be closer than you think.
 
It was an emotional time for the Celtics, dealing with the unexpected death of Chyna Thomas, the younger sister of Isaiah Thomas, just hours before Boston’s first playoff game this season.
 
And then there were injuries such as Thomas’ right hip strain that ended his postseason by halftime of Boston’s Eastern Conference finals matchup with Cleveland.
 
But through that pain, we saw the emergence of Bradley in a light we have seldom seen him in as a Celtic.
 
We have seen him play well in the past, but it wasn’t until Thomas’ injury did we see Bradley showcase even more elements of his game that had been overlooked.
 
One of the constant knocks on Bradley has been his ball-handling.
 
And yet there were a number of occasions following Thomas’ playoff-ending injury, where Bradley attacked defenders off the dribble and finished with lay-ups and an occasional dunk in transition.
 
Among players who appeared in at least 12 playoff games this year, only Washington’s John Wall (7.9), Cleveland’s LeBron James (6.8) and Golden State’s Stephen Curry (5.2) averaged more points in transition than Bradley (4.7).
 
Bradley recognized the team needed him to be more assertive, do things that forced him to be more front-and-center which is part of his evolution in Boston as a leader on this team.
 
“It’s weird but players like Al (Horford) definitely helped me get out of my shell and pushed me this year to be more of a vocal leader,” Bradley said.
 
And that talent combined with Bradley doing what he does every offseason – come back significantly better in some facet of his game – speaks to how he’s steadily growing into being a leader whose actions as well as his words are impactful.