Making Sense of Paul Pierce's Recent Struggles

If you have happened to watch Paul Pierce this year you have probably noticed something a little different. It is not something that would jump out to you quickly, and it’s not even a drastic difference at that. In years past we have known Paul Pierce to be a terrific scorer, especially at the rim. This year he has seemed to switch up his game to being more of a prolific shooter, the results can be seen by looking no farther than the Footlocker Three Point Contest during all star weekend in Dallas.

When a player changes from a attacker/scorer to a shooter you can pretty much expect there to be some problems at times. As most of you probably know, a shooter can have bad nights, and bad stretches for that matter. In yesterday’s game against Denver, and during many games this season we have seen this from Pierce. Yesterday Paul went 2-10 from the field, 0-2 from behind the arc, and 1-4 from the FT line.

NOW, with that being said there is an underlying storyline that could explain why Paul Pierce struggled in yesterday’s game. During last Thursday’s one point victory over the L.A Lakers, Pierce suffered a thumb injury that forced him to miss some of that game. Being the warrior that he is Pierce returned to the lineup Friday and Sunday against Portland and Denver. A.Sherrod Blakely from CSNNE reported the following about Paul’s injury:

Pierce’s right thumb injury suffered vs. LA is a problem. He’s definitely questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. New York.

Granted this does not make up for other games in which he struggled, but to be quite honest this guy has been beaten up all year. Many people, including myself, believe it is time for Doc to take the “Popovich approach” with guys like Pierce and Kevin Garnett. If you are not familiar with the “Popovich approach” it refers to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich resting his key veterans in games that the team could probably win without them.

With an aging and beat up team like the Celtics this could only do them good. If Pierce’s injury is something that could bother him in the future it is not worth playing him in a regular season game against the New York Knicks, or better yet the New Jersey Nets. Even if you do lose, does it even matter? I don’t know about you, but if the Celtics are raising Banner 18 in June I could care less about a regular season loss to the New York Knicks.

So my advice to Doc Rivers is to get the starters some rest (KG and Pierce particulary), grab a two, three, or four seed in the playoffs, and then have a healthy team ready to battle for Banner 18.

Photos via Yahoo Sports/Getty Images

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