Paul Pierce is the centerpiece of the Boston Celtics, and there's really no arguing that point. Kevin Garnett may be the heart and soul of the defense and Ray Allen is the shooter with the rubber arm, but Pierce is the glue that holds everything together. Without Pierce, the Celtics just aren't as big of a threat.
Unfortunately, that's a scenario the coach Doc Rivers and the Celtics may be facing.
Pierce suffered from a bruised right heel during the team's training camp and has missed nearly all of camp, as well as the team's open scrimmage at TD Garden on Friday night and the preseason opener against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
"I'm concerned, not long-term, but I'm concerned short-term," said Rivers (via WEEI). "We have those two games right off the bat and he's gone one practice and that's basically it. So, yeah I'm concerned about it."
Pierce will not play in the Celtics' preseason finale and may be out until Friday. Pierce worked out really hard on Monday and was very sore afterwards, according to Rivers, and the C's captains status could be in jeopardy or the season opener.
No Pierce for one game certainly hurts, but what if it's more serious than we think?
As we've already established, Pierce is a very important member of this team. For the past decade, he's been the team's leading scorer and has a chance to finish his career with the most points in franchise history. Think about that -- this is a franchise that has had players like John Havlicek, Larry Bird, Bill Russell and so many more.
Even through the Celtics' resurgence to the top of the Eastern Conference and the league, Pierce has been at the forefront. In 2008, he was the MVP of the NBA Finals, and almost led the C's to another title two years later.
Without Pierce, the Celtics could easily slip to the middle of the pack in the East.
Make no mistake, the Celtics can still (and should easily) make the playoffs is Pierce was to miss a significant portion of time this season. However, upon reaching that point, there wouldn't be much hope for moving on. Think Boston can get past the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls or even the Atlanta Hawks or Orlando Magic without The Truth? Not likely.
Right now, it doesn't appear that the injury to Pierce is a serious one. However, the injury has seemed to drag out longer than expected, which does nothing but create concern. The last time the C's had an injury stretch out this long was Jeff Green, and he is missing the entire season with an aortic aneurysm.
For the record, I am in no way saying that Pierce's injury is even close to Green's, but teams do keep the real news about injuries under wraps for as long as possible. The longer this goes without a definitive end date, the more worrisome it becomes.
For now, it appears that Pierce will be out for a couple more days. If that's truly the case, then all should be well (until the next injury comes around). If it's not, the Celtics are in big, big trouble.