Paul Pierce has been doing it all for this Celtics team all season. Whether it’s scoring, passing, defending or rebounding, he’s again proved himself as one of the top small forwards in the league. This year however, one of those skills has stood out to me even more than usual. At the advanced age of 35, Paul Pierce is doing something historic right now, posting career best numbers on the glass on a team full of subpar rebounders.
While admiring Pierce’s work for afar, I decided to dive in and take a closer look at just how well Pierce had been rebounding and find out how exactly, despite age and injury that he’s been doing it over at TrueHoop on ESPN. Here’s a lengthy excerpt of the piece:
The Celtics were on the verge of collapse when the Heat came to town on January 27. It wasn’t merely the frustrating six-game losing streak, it was also the rumor: As the game progressed, whispers bounced around TD Garden that All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, who was sitting out, had torn his ACL.
The Celtics hung tough with the defending champions that afternoon. The defensive struggle came down to the closing seconds of double overtime with the Heat trailing by one. With the shot clock winding down, LeBron James pulled up for a midrange jumper.
By the time James’ shot had been released, Paul Pierce had already abandoned his man, Shane Battier, at the 3-point line and headed to the paint to set up shop.
Four bodies crowded the missed shot. But only one player, Pierce, came away with the rock. It was Pierce’s 13th rebound of the day. The Celtics escaped with a 100-98 win, a flicker of title hopes still alive, if barely.
Although not what he’s most famous for, rebounds like that have always been typical of Pierce — and more now than ever.
The underlying truth about The Truth is that he’s always been a good rebounder, averaging 5.9 rebounds per game over the course of his career, an impressive number for any small forward.
“I felt like in every big game you can count on him for 10 rebounds, no matter who you are playing, or their size,” former Celtics assistant coach and current Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau says of Pierce. “He’s never been afraid to stick his nose in and he’ll scrap with everybody.”
Despite reliable output over the past 15 seasons, a decline on the glass would be expected at this juncture of any player’s career. Scrapping for boards is a brutal assignment for any player, let alone a 6-7 35-year-old, playing through a pinched nerve in his neck, who was called “unathletic” even before logging almost 45,000 NBA minutes.
And yet this is the season Pierce is posting the best rebounding numbers of his career, amazingly grabbing a higher percentage of his team’s defensive rebounds than bigger, stronger, quicker and younger players like Marc Gasol,Nikola Pekovic, Roy Hibbert, JaVale McGee, Pau Gasol, David West and Carmelo Anthony.
Pierce has grabbed more rebounds per 36 minutes played this year (6.8) than any other season in his entire career, a startling feat that seems to defy the laws of NBA aging.
So what’s been the difference this year for Pierce? It’s simple really: This year, it’s what the C’s need.
To read the full post, CLICK HERE.