I had a few ideas in my head for the topic of this week’s Celtics column:
Then, around 3:30 p.m. yesterday, I was in my car, cursing the driver in front of me who for some reason kept breaking while in the left lane, when my world was turned upside down by a tweet by Shelden Williams.
Who knew Shelden had such an ability to create drama? I, and every other Celtic fan on Twitter, demanded to know what Williams was talking about.
I tried to remain calm, mostly because I needed to avoid driving my car off the side of the road.
Maybe Shelden just found out he had been traded. Or maybe it had nothing to do with basketball. Maybe Shelden was just talking about the weather report he just saw that predicted pouring rain for later in the night.
I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
But I knew what he meant. We all knew. On Monday night against the Wizards, Paul Pierce hurt his foot and Doc ultimately pulled him from the game in the fourth quarter.
At the time of writing this, there still was no definitive answer on Pierce’s injury. But the reports do not appear to be good. Or should I write, the tweets do not appear to be good.
David Aldridge tweeted that “Paul Pierce may—may—have a broken foot.”
Larry Ridley from WHDH in Boston tweeted that “Source tells 7Sports Paul Pierce has a STRAINED left foot. It’s not broken. Celtics to get more tests.”
Then Rich Levine of Comcast Sports Net tweeted that Danny Ainge said, “We just don’t now the extent of the injury. The doctors don’t have all the information to make the decision. We expect to make an announcement tomorrow.”
So what does all this mean, other than that Twitter is taking over the universe?
Well, it looks like Doc Rivers sitting Pierce in the fourth quarter on Monday night was for more than precautionary reasons. As for the bigger picture, it is difficult to say without knowing the extent of the injury.
I would venture a guess, but I am still a little short of my medical degree (just waiting on the whole applying, getting into, and finishing medical school). Since I don’t know, let’s breakdown all the possibilities:
First, Pierce is out for the season. Worst case scenario is indeed, the worst case scenario. The Celtics would probably still make the playoffs (.500 likely is all it would take to make the playoffs, requiring Boston to finish just 11-25 over the rest of the season). But without Pierce, doing anything other than winning maybe one series would appear to be out of the question.
All of that is likely true too if this injury is severe enough that even if Pierce comes back, he is far from healthy.
Ok, let’s move on from thinking about the worst case scenario. I may be crazy, and it may be because I spent too much time yesterday frantically hitting refresh on Twitter for any updates, but I think any other scenario involving this injury to Pierce won’t be that bad.
As I wrote above, even without Pierce the rest of the season, the Celtics make the playoffs. Yes, they won’t be a top seed and would have to win on the road. But they weren’t catching Cleveland anyway, and as for the other teams in the East, I don’t think home court will be a difference in any potential series.
Now, think back to last postseason – Paul Pierce looked out of gas almost throughout. If he can make it back from the injury to be ready for the playoffs, there is no reason the injury can’t be turned into a positive.
The injury could help Pierce (again, assuming he can fully recover in time) be fresh for the postseason. What is more important for the Celtics future – the difference of a few places in the standings or having Paul Pierce fresh and ready to go in the playoffs? I would no doubt sacrifice playoff positioning for a full-strength, fully-rested Paul Pierce.
In addition to possibly helping Pierce play at his best in the playoffs, the injury also opens up an opportunity for the other members of the Celtics. Tony Allen has played well this season. With Pierce likely out, T.A. should get a more consistent opportunity to contribute.
Remember Pierce’s last significant injury, during the 2006-07 season – Tony Allen used the opportunity to play his best basketball as a Celtic, averaging 18.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in eleven games before injuring himself.
It isn’t just Tony Allen. Ray Allen has no doubt struggled this season. But what seems to be forgotten is how much Ray has had to change his game since coming to Boston. He went from a career first option on every team he had played on to being the third option with the Celtics.
This may be counter-intuitive, but presenting Allen with more of the offensive burden may help him break out of his slump.
Marquis Daniels is coming back shortly too. His numbers are all down this year from last season, but with Pierce out, it should mean more minutes for Daniels and a chance to finally feel a part of the Celtics.
Perhaps maybe Doc even uses this chance to see if a young player like Bill Walker can help out the Celtics cause at all. Ok, that could be going to far.
All of this might make no sense. It is possible I am just trying to rationalize. But for now, I am going to proceed under the impression that Pierce will be back at some point this season; and if so, the Celtics very well could be better off for it.
That’s my story. And I am sticking to it. At least until I read something different on Twitter.