After averaging 21.8 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 58.7% this past week (while the Celtics went 4-0), Paul Pierce has won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award.
Which reminds me, here’s a piece I wrote after the Celtics lost Game 7.
What hurts so bad isn’t only that the Celtics lost a heartbreaking Game 7 in the NBA Finals — it’s that I don’t know if they’ll be back in the Finals anytime soon. Next year they’ll be a year older, a year slower. We don’t know if Doc Rivers is coming back and we don’t know if Ray Allen will re-sign. We don’t know if Paul Pierce will opt out or Rasheed Wallace will retire. Even if everyone does come back, there’s no guarantee the Celtics will still be contenders. The window is closing fast, and it could be completely closed by next spring. The time to win another championship was now. And it didn’t happen.
Do people realize how improbable this year has been? The Celtics’ Big Three haven’t just maintained their play since last year. They’ve all (indisputably, improbably and somehow) improved. At age 33 (Pierce), 34 (Garnett) and 35 (Ray Allen), the C’s stars have all completely reversed the aging process, to mostly unprecedented levels. Bill Simmons even wrote a column about the extension of NBA superstars’ primes, in which he included Allen and Pierce, but did not discuss Garnett (the Celtic who looked most washed up last season, radically turned his career around and now could reasonably win Defensive Player of the Year).
If I were super corny, I would insert a Benjamin Button reference here, but you get the point. The Celtics Big Three have (again — indisputably, improbably and somehow) exceeded all expectations coming into this season, reverted to 2007-2008 form (or close? or better?) and stand 21 games away from ending the regular season as Eastern Conference champions and postseason favorites. If you remember how old these Celtics looked last regular season, when many intelligent people called for Danny Ainge to trade Ray Allen (and his then-expiring contract) away, you surely realize how improbable this run of remarkable endurance and improvement has been. The Celtics’ Big Three have missed a combined nine games this season — the over-under was somewhere closer to 4,384.
Old age could strike viciously at any time (last season, I thought it already had), and irrelevance won’t arrive too far after that. The Big Three’s primes (or, at least, a reasonable facsimile of their primes) have been extended for now, but we don’t know how long this will last.
For now, enjoy Pierce’s suddenly-springy legs, Ray Allen’s hot hand, and Kevin Garnett’s run of double-doubles. I hate the thought, but it could all be gone far too soon.