When Pierce’s final shot attempt was blocked by John Salmons, a collective head hanging could be felt from Celtics fans everywhere. Heads hung because Pierce couldn’t even get the ball to the basket to give the Celtics a shot at an unprecedented 5 point come back with 35.5 seconds left.
While the disappointment still lingers, fans should lift their heads up and applaud their star for his sheer ability to even get off the floor at that point. Pierce’s attempt came at the end of his fifty-second minute of basketball yesterday, far more than any Bulls starter and only second to Rondo on the Celtics.
Why so many minutes? Because next to Pierce’s name on the Celtics’ depth chart is Bill Walker. While I still believe that Bill Walker will be good enough to be second to a swingman like Pierce, I know for a fact he won’t be in the 2009 NBA Playoffs.
What’s worse is the comparison between the Bulls and Celtics rotations. The Bulls only like to use a seven man rotation with only Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller coming off the bench while the Celtics supposedly have three serviceable guards and two big men to come off the bench. Now you can argue that Mikki Moore isn’t worth the six fouls he’s allotted, Eddie House hasn’t found his range in the playoffs they way he did in the regular season, Stephon Marbury is still shaking off dust, and Tony Allen has his mind on other things, but none of those would substantiate why Kirk Hinrich is out playing all the guards on the bench. One would also think that five guys is better than two, but so far, no good.
The only Bulls’ rotation player that has logged close to as many miles as Pierce is Brad Miller and he has only averaged around 26 minutes in the playoffs.
In order for the Celtics to win this series, or even have a shot at winning this series, the bench needs to step it up with the time they are given. Doc can’t play guys that he can’t trust to produce, which means more than 11 points in 50 minutes. The bench starts producing, Pierce can’t start resting, and the Celtics’ fans can start breathing easier again.
Best case scenario: Another blowout like Game Three where Pierce only has to play 28 minutes and the bench can get some rhythm going in to Game Six.
Worst case scenario: See you in Boston for Game Seven.