Wednesday , Mar , 22 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Pierce is a one-man show in Boston

=== Pierce is a one-man show in Boston ===

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

(Sports Network) – Paul Pierce has been spectacular for Boston this season.
However, the Celtics could be headed for an early vacation as they are in
serious danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2000-01
campaign.

Despite Boston’s poor record, the 28-year-old Pierce is having the best season
of his eight-year career. He has started all of the Celtics games and leads
the club in scoring, rebounding and assists. Pierce is shooting just under 48
percent from the floor and has knocked down over 35 percent of his attempts
from beyond the arc.

Pierce has carried Boston on his back numerous times during the season, and
has been one of the few bright spots for the disappointing Celtics. There
is not much help for him on the Boston roster.

Wally Szczerbiak is a talented offensive player, while guard Delonte West and
forward Al Jefferson still need to develop their games. Twenty-nine-year-old
center Raef LaFrentz is serviceable and Ryan Gomes and Tony Allen are still
question marks.

Without Pierce’s heroics this season, Boston would most likely be a team that
would struggle to win 15 games. He has made big shot after big shot and has
single-handidly won games for the Celtics. The 6-6 Pierce is the single reason
that there is still hope for Boston to qualify for the postseason.

Originally selected out of Kansas by the Celtics in the first round (10th pick
overall) of the 1998 NBA Draft, Pierce deserves serious consideration for this
year’s MVP. He won’t win the hardware, but deserves to be mentioned with the
elite in the league.

Reigning MVP Steve Nash has been great for the Suns, while Dwyane Wade is
having an awesome year for Miami and Dirk Nowitzki had Dallas competing with
the Spurs for the best record in the Western Conference. The one thing that
separates Pierce from the above stars is that the Celtics are not a playoff
contender like Phoenix, the Heat and the Mavericks.

Individually, Pierce has been as good as anyone this season. It’s not his
fault that he doesn’t have a supporting cast that can win on a consistent
basis. Even though he has competed every game and left it all out on the
court, this has to be one of his most frustrating campaigns for him as a
professional.

Rumors surfaced that Boston was actually considering the possibility of
trading Pierce during the offseason and at the trade deadline. Obviously
nothing happened, but the Kansas product has a lot of value and would be a
welcomed addition on any club in the NBA.

Pierce is the cornerstone of the Celtics and has performed like a franchise
player all season. But, he needs help. Boston would be better off trying to
figure out how it can build around Pierce. As good as he is, the five-time
All-Star cannot win by himself and this year has definitely showed that.

If Boston was to deal Pierce, it would be starting a new era and would begin
the rebuilding process. The interesting thing is that 6-6 forward is in the
prime of his career, and can win if the team finds him a talented teammate who
he can form a one-two punch with like he once did with Antoine Walker, who now
plays for Miami Heat.

Boston fans are lucky to have Pierce to watch. He is a hard-nosed player, who
doesn’t back down from a challenge and is always willing to put the team on
his back. When the Celtics need a lift or a big basket, head coach Doc
Rivers knows he has an All-Star that is ready to have his number called.

The 2005-06 campaign has not been what Boston’s management or fans had hoped
for. However, Pierce has at least made it entertaining and has treated those
who have watched him to some memorable performances.

Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has to get Boston’s
lone All-Star some help. If Ainge doesn’t improve the Celtics’ roster, Pierce
will continue to be a one-man show, and that could get old very fast.

BOS