BOSTON -- There was a time when 30 points a game wasn't out of the ordinary for Paul Pierce.
It wasn't unusual to see the Boston Celtics captain lead the way on offense while his teammates trailed behind him on the box score. That was also during a period when the Celtics were struggling to find wins and Pierce was forced to carry the load himself.
Things have changed since the establishment of the "New Big Three" in 2007. Scoring has been distributed among other star players and even when Pierce had a big night, it was often in conjunction with a solid team effort.
Pierce cannot be expected to do it alone. Is he capable of putting the team on his shoulders? Yes. Is that the most effective way for the Celtics to win consistently? No.
On Wednesday Pierce posted a near-flawless 43-point performance (13-16 FG, 6-7 3PG, 8-8 FT) in the Celtics win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Two days later, his 35 points (13-23 FG, 3-7 3PG, 6-8 FT) were not enough to push the Celtics past the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime.
"Its a team game, regardless of how I play," said Pierce. "Weve got to do better in stretches.I think when our offense isnt going for long stretches ,weve got to be able to defend. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, we went into the quarter up like seven or eight and we instantly kind of gave away the lead.Thats the kind of case where even though our shots arent falling, weve got to be able to come down and get stops after stops after stops. It just comes and goes in stretches right now.
Pierce played 43 minutes in the Celtics overtime loss to the Bucks. At 35 years old, head coach Doc Rivers wants to manage his veteran captain's minutes. At the same time, it is hard to do when he is one of the only players making shots.
"Because of the overtime he played more minutes, but hes the only one that really had it going," said Rivers. "I always jokingly and its the truth say its a make-miss league and tonight was evident of that. We had point-blank looks at the rim all through the game and one of the best shooters in the NBA in JET (Jason Terry) and Kevin (Garnett). We got them great shots, just couldnt make them. I thought as the game went on you know you press more and more to make them and we just couldnt.It was one of those games."
Other members of the Celtics will get going offensively -- the team has too much talent to rely on one player. But when the Cs are struggling to find their way to the basket, they know they still have a tried and true option they can turn to. They just don't plan on making a habit out of it.
"When everybodys not making shots youre down, youre looking for whoever is making shots," said Rivers. "They didnt come in the game trying to miss or not ready, just the ball wouldnt go in.