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Plenty have started to point fingers at the cause of the Celtics' struggles as they sit at 20-21 at the halfway point of the season.

Whether it's mental toughness, players tuning Doc Rivers out, or an issue some say the Celtics have always had that is getting highlighted by a struggling defense:





All of those theories may be valid or they all might be bull. But one thing is certain, Paul Pierce's game has taken a serious step backwards.

According to Basketball Reference, in 11 games in January, Pierce scored 15.9 ppg shooting 40 percent from the field. From the three-point line, Pierce shot an atrocious 32.8 percent.

Since the start of the season, some of Pierce's stats show his shot has been getting worse. His numbers by month:

Free throw percentage
November: 82.8
December: 79.5
January: 67.5

Three-point percentage
November: 39.7
December: 35.5
January: 32.8

Some of his numbers fluctuate:

Points per game
November: 18.9
December: 20.8
January: 15.9

Field goal percentage
November: 42.3
December: 44.1
January: 40

A telling stat is the only area that Pierce has improved on in January is his rebounding.

Rebounds per game
November: 5.8
December: 4.9
January: 6.6

This suggests he knows his shot is off and is attempting to make up for it in different ways.

Apart from stats, Pierce's game doesn't pass the “eye test.” His outside shot is flat or way off the mark and he isn't that “go to guy” in close games that he was previously.

So what's up? Is it simply that the 35-year-old legs are toast? Were fans fooled by last year's lockout shortened season into thinking he could do in 82 games what he did in 61 last year? Is he struggling to find his role on a team that is no longer his? Is he sick of cropping up, yet again, in trade rumors? Or is it simply that he is nursing an injury and no one in Boston either knows about it or is willing to talk about it?

There are plenty of things this team needs to improve on if it wants to have success in the playoffs, if they make it. But one player that has to step up, if he is able, is The Truth.

If not, then the team needs to do something about it. Either step up Jeff Green's minutes or trade for a wing. Because this Pierce just doesn't cut it.

Eric Blaisdell 1/23/2013 12:56:00 PM Edit
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