Quick: Who’s the Celtics’ MVP? Is it Garnett, who’s back to playing Defensive Player of the Year-worthy defense, while killing it on the boards and providing his normal efficient and selfless offense? Rondo, who racks up assists like they’re on sale, and normally controls the entire game with his pace and instincts? Or is it Pierce, Mr. Consistency (and also, in the past few years, Mr. Efficiency), who’s the C’s best at creating his own shot?
I’m not ready to tackle that conversation. Arguments can be made for all of them, but Pierce’s level of play this year makes me breathe easy. The Pierce we saw yesterday got whatever he wanted against Ron Artest. He was the Pierce we love, the Pierce who patiently meanders anywhere he wants to on the court. The Pierce who uses his strength, footwork and cunning to get to his wheelhouse, regardless of how he’s being defended.
On one play in the first quarter, Pierce showed the difference between last June and now. Artest pressured up on Pierce, trying to body him in classic Artest-ian style. What did Pierce do? He calmly used Artest’s pressure defense to his advantage. He angled his body past Artest, used his strength and got into the lane with ease. The LA defense collapsed, and Pierce kicked out to Rajon Rondo for a wide open jumper. Never mind that a Rajon Rondo wide open jumper isn’t always a good thing (and, in fact, Rondo missed the shot). Pierce dictated his own terms yesterday, in a way that he didn’t in June. He created separation from Artest whenever he so desired.
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