Paul Pierce is finally firing on all cylinders for the Boston Celtics. Pierce, who missed the team's first three games with a heel injury, has worked his way back into basketball shape and has finally hit his stride in the team's last two victories.
The Truth is back, and it looks like he won't be going away anytime soon.
Paul Pierce followed up his best performance of the season against the Washington Wizards on Sunday (he scored a Celtics season-high 34 points and also has 10 assists, eight rebounds and 10 steals in Boston's 100-94 win) with another dandy, leading the C's with 19 points and 7 assists to go along with five rebounds in their improbable 87-56 blowout win over the Orlando Magic on Monday night at TD Garden.
Pierce, who missed the first -- games of the season while recovering from a bruised right heel he suffered before the season started, finally appears to have his basketball legs back.
During his recent resurgence, Pierce has appeared much more confident on both ends of the court. Whether it has been driving to the basket or burying his trademark fading jumper, Pierce has been in a definite groove.
But it goes beyond his scoring abilities, which have been more than proven in his 14 seasons in Boston. Pierce has taken over the role of the team's facilitator during the absence of star point guard Rajon Rondo, who has a sore right wrist suffered during the Celtics' win over the Raptors last Wednesday.
In that game, Pierce distributed seven assists while only scoring eight points. Against Phoenix, Pierce had six assists to go along with 12 points. On Monday, Pierce put his passing prowess on display once again, leading the team with his seven assists.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that Pierce is looking like his former self -- after all, we are talking about a Future Hall of Famer here. On the same note, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the captain puts the welfare of the team front and center.
"It was good to finally beat a quality opponent, a team that's over .500," Pierce said after Monday's win. "So now there's no excuses because we know what we're capable of. We know what type of team (we are) and knowing that guys were out, you know we really had a lot of fire power that wasn't really out there tonight and so there shouldn't be any more excuses. We know what we're capable of and this is the type of game that I hope can carry over the rest of the season."
Pierce was particularly impressed with Avery Bradley's performance. Bradley started in place of the injured Rajon Rondo and had six points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals in 29 minutes.
Bradley's defense was perhaps the most impressive sight in the game. The second-year guard held Jameer Nelson to five points while forcing the talented Magic point guard to cough the ball up on several occasions (he had five turnovers).
"I think it really started at the top with Avery Bradley tonight, I mean he was very infectious on the rest of us with his ball pressure all night long.
"What he's doing out there, he's playing so hard, he's harassing the point guards so the other guys are trying to deny that and then they catch it and once they get into their offense there's only like 10-11 seconds on the shot clock and everybody knows around the NBA its tough to run your offense with 10-11 seconds on the shot clock."
Bradley's intensity certainly has helped the Celtics in recent games, but don't lose sight of Pierce.
Pierce practically willed the Celtics to victory on Sunday against Washington with one of his best games in recent memory. If the Celtics are going to go anywhere this season, it will be because of Pierce. Sure, it takes more than one player to win in this league (LeBron James can attest to that), but Pierce's brand of leadership on both sides of the ball is unequaled
Simply put, the Celtics will go as far as Pierce can take them this season and beyond.