Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Buckets don't come as easily for Pierce without Rondo, and he knows that's true for most of his teammates. So Pierce has been doing his best to fill the role of distributor on a team that doesn't have a true backup point guard (Delonte West is the closest thing and he's sidelined with a fractured right wrist).
While Nate Robinson fills Rondo's spot in the starting lineup, Pierce likes to see himself as the point guard and Robinson as the off-guard, filling Pierce's scoring void.
"Honestly, I'm a playmaker," Pierce said. "Usually, me and [Rondo] handle a lot of the playmaking responsibilities. With Rondo out, I am asked to handle the ball a little bit more. That's the results, I think."
Rivers didn't seem overly surprised by Pierce's production, saying he's seen Pierce's overall ability in his seven years behind the Boston bench. He praised Pierce's basketball IQ and placed him in the same class as LeBron James in terms of all-around value on the court.
Paul Pierce makes it look so easy out there. You'd swear he was sort of jogging up the court, but the next thing you know, he's past two guys and laying it in. He's an absolute master at using his body and changes of pace to get to where he needs to get. And he's stronger than a lot of people give him credit for… which allows him to absorb contact and keep on going.
Now, with Rondo out, he's morphed those skills into a way to get his guys open. Instead of finishing in the lane with a guy on him and trying to get the foul… he's dishing it off to Glen Davis for a lay up. Instead of trying to break his guy down and make a 1-on-1 move, he's tossing a lob to Shaq. Instead of using his gifts to be the scorer he always has been, Pierce has simply tweaked his game to be more of a passer because his team needs that from him right now.
The last two games? The only time Paul Pierce has ever had back-to-back double digit assist games. You have to go back to 2002 to find back-to-back 9+ assist games.
Pierce is doing what his team needs in the face of a ridiculous bout of injuries. Pierce can be a playmaker if he needs to be. It's a very underrated aspect of his game.
On Page 2: No Sheed is helping Baby grow up
Davis’s increased minutes and activity near the basket have encouraged Rivers to use him as the primary backup to O’Neal and Kevin Garnett, a role he lost last year to Rasheed Wallace. Wallace’s presence affected Davis’s confidence; he felt as if president Danny Ainge had told him he wasn’t good enough to be a dependable sixth man.
But Wallace’s retirement has become an afterthought because of Davis seamlessly accepting the added responsibility.
“The consistency? Yeah, I feel it coming,’’ Davis said in a subdued, reflective voice. “It’s about grabbing it and making something out of it. A lot of people realize things but it’s you [being able to make] a change. You can’t just want to make a change, you have to make a change.
“I want to be a consistent player in this league. Just trying to make my stamp on the game. I’m trying to be more versatile with my game.’’
Baby was huge down the stretch yesterday. His jumper, something everyone was begging him to stop shooting two years ago, is a huge weapon for him now. And once people start playing up on him, he's got the ability to take a dribble and free himself up.
It'll earn Baby a raise next year… maybe… depending on that Collective Bargaining Agreement situation.
But until then, Baby's going to continue to be the first guy off the bench for Shaq. And even when Perk returns to the starting lineup, Baby might still be used in the same way. Subbing Shaq and Baby in for Perk and KG gives the second unit a nice little kick. Then add Jermaine and you not only have a deep frontcourt… you have a versatile one.
Credit Doc Rivers on this one. For a guy who supposedly can't develop young talent, he has transformed Glen Davis into a completely different player than he was in college. He's turned him into a player than can contribute significantly to an NBA team. Glen had the talent and the ability and the work ethic… Doc just guided him down the path that will keep him in the league for a long time.
Related links: CSNNE: Davis doesn't let sore back stop him
The rest of the links
Globe: Magic trades change holiday preparations | ESPN Boston: Shaq has impact in return | WEEI: Big Papi talks basketball | Herald: Diesel back, Pierce hot, C's streak on | O'Brien rooting for 'Toine comeback | CSNNE: Bradley takes on idol, friend in Indiana's Ford | Hibbert shows C's he's come a long way | Allen makes necessary adjustments | MWDN: Celtics' Big 3 key to winning streak