The Celtics Are For Real, and so is Paul Pierce

1190922388Seems odd to make that claim when we already had 47 games worth of evidence to tell us that the Celtics are really good, but none of those 47 had come against the San Antonio Spurs, and the Spurs are the gold standard in the NBA. It doesn’t matter what their record is, until proven otherwise San Antonio is the team all others measure themselves against.

So, the Celtics 98-90 win over San Antonio yesterday is further validation of their gaudy 39-9 record. And because it was achieved without the services of Kevin Garnett—and with the contributions of Leon Powe and our boy Big Baby against the one and only Tim Duncan—it’s not crazy to say that the C’s truly arrived yesterday.

The Spurs would say that they didn’t have Tony Parker (true), but when you have Duncan and the great Manu Ginobli, then you don’t really have any excuses. (Especially since the Celtics didn’t have Garnett.)

The C’s did, however, have Paul Pierce. Big Baby earned a lot of kudos, and rightly so, for his inspired play against Duncan, but Pierce was The Man. He has very quietly put together one of his best seasons. Sure, his scoring average is down (he’s taking fewer shots), but his FG percentage and 3-point shooting are both above his career average, his assists are up, and his turnovers are under control.

Garnett deserves all the credit he has been given for his MVP-like first half, and we are well-known to have an unhealthy man-crush on Ray Allen. Doc Rivers, and his lieutenant Tom Thibodeau, have also earned high marks. Big Baby, Powe, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins have been revelations.

But let’s not forget Pierce, perhaps the most underrated superstar this city has ever seen. He has been on teams ranging from pretty good to bloody awful, but after 10 years he finally has one worthy of his skills.