Boston Celtics legend sends urgent message about team's championship hopes

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics
Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

Paul Pierce ratcheted up the pressure on the 2023-24 Boston Celtics to hang Banner 18 this Fall after a successful postseason run from April to June by claiming that this season "has to be" one that ends in triumph.

“It has to be,” Celtics legend Paul Pierce told during an event promoting his partnership with Bushmills Irish Whiskey. “I know it sounds like ‘wow, that’s a lot of pressure,’ but this is what we want. We only hang championship banners in here. This is the pressure we want in Boston, and the expectation we have in this city.”

Pierce specifically called out Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum by name, putting the onus on them to lead this team to a title; all while crediting Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday with a renewed energy in the locker room.

“When you really felt it is when the new players came. It’s just like it was a different energy, man,” Pierce said. “I come every year to training camp, to games, and I see the fans. It’s just different now and I feel it in the way they play, the way they approach it every day. I’ve seen these guys grow and mature from guys who I felt like were learning how to be leaders to now where they have to lead for sure.

“You’ve got to understand: Jayson and Jaylen have been in multiple All-Star games. They’ve been to the Finals. They’ve made deep runs in the playoffs. They’ve made a lot of money in this game. I know that all they care about that’s left on the list is a championship.”

Nikola Jokic's Nuggets can serve as Michael Jordan's Bulls to Boston Celtics' Jazz

It goes without saying that the biggest threat, and dare I say only threat, to the Celtics' hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy in June is Nikola Jokic's Denver Nuggets. Colin Cowherd pointed this reality out on March 20 during his radio show.

"They don’t match up with Denver," Cowherd said (h/t NESN). "Denver has the best closer, in my opinion, in all of basketball in (Nikola) Jokic. That’s the guy I want with the ball with a minute left. Jamal Murray’s clutch stats are among the best in the league. They’re 2-0 against the Celtics and top five in the NBA in fourth-quarter differential."

Boston runs the risk of becoming this era's Jerry Sloan-coached Utah Jazz if the Nuggets go for a second consecutive title. And don't stop there.

That would make Jokic Jordan, and the modern-day Nuggets the 1990s Bulls.