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Paul Pierce listened to Celtics fans cheer before his name was called during player introductions (Josue Pavon/WEEI.com)

It was a perfect ending for the Celtics.

Paul Pierce knocked in the final shot, and the Celtics won the game. 

Towards the end of a 107-102 Celtics win over the Clippers, fans spent the most of the second half chanting for Pierce to come back in the game. With 19.8 second left, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers finally reinsert Pierce — who had been on the bench since the first quarter — and TD Garden went nuts.

With the game out of hand, the Celtics legend took a deep 3-pointer in front of Isaiah Thomas, and drained.

The Garden erupted.

What a fitting moment by Pierce to knock down the final shot, just like he’s done dozens of times throughout his 15 years with the Celtics.

“It’s a tough situation, been sitting for like the last two hours, then had to come in there and get a shot,” Pierce said with a smile on his face. “But I’m glad I ended it that way, [glad] I was able to. You know, you want to come in and get a win but it was a tough day, not only for me but for my teammates, it was a lot of emotion running through; my teammates kind of felt it too. I’m glad I was able to cap it off, my last game in the Garden, at least I can just say I put one last bucket in at the end of the game. 

“But it was tough, man. The fans are awesome. These are the best fans in the world. I never felt anything like this. I truly appreciate my time here. I truly appreciate tonight. These are the best fans in the world. I never felt anything like this. I truly appreciate my time here. I truly appreciate tonight. The fans showered me with a lot of love.” 

TD Garden wasted little time in showering Paul Pierce with a tribute video. During the first timeout of the first quarter — which was called at the 8:13 mark — a montage of some of Pierce’s greatest moments on the court played on the jumbotron to commemorate his final game. After Celtics fans gave a thunderous standing ovation for Pierce, one that continued as the game resumed, fans began chanting a “Thank you, Paul Pierce” chant.

Pierce didn’t come back into the game until the Clippers’ final play at the end of the fourth quarter. 

“You know you really don’t know what you meant to a team when you’re out there playing,” Pierce explained. “You really don’t get a chance to really reflect on it. It hit me a lot tonight and I’m sure it’s going to hit me a lot more when I’m done playing. This is something that I truly felt tonight.”

During the game, the home team gave their fans plenty more to cheer about. Behind Thomas’ 13 first-quarter points, the Celtics leaped out to a quick start by grabbing a 15-point lead. 

Isaiah Thomas’ 26 points led seven Celtics in double figures. Amir Johnson, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk each finished with 13 points, while Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Jaylen Brown each added 11. 

Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford both led their team with 23 points, Raymond Felton added 16 points off the bench and DeAndre Jordan grabbed a game-high 16 boards.

The Clippers found their offensive momentum in the in the second quarter by cutting their deficit to two points before the Celtics went an 11-2 run in less than two minutes. Horford, Crowder and Thomas all drained in three consecutive 3-pointers and Smart followed that up with a put-back layup to push their lead to 11.

Throughout the second half, the C’s kept their opponent at bay — grasping a double-digit lead through most of the final frame. 

After the game, Celtics fans stuck around and doused Pierce with a standing ovation as the former Celtics captain waved one last final time before he walked towards center court and kissed the logo. 

It was Pierce’s way of saying goodbye one last time.

“That was kind of pre-planned, I know I wanted to give Lucky one last kiss,” Pierce said. “Lucky’s been through it all with me, the ups and downs, even helped me out on a couple occasions. It was the last time I’m gonna touch this floor as a player. I’m sure I’ll be back as a fan but as a player that was my last time so I kissed the floor goodbye.”

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

May 3, 2013; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) during the second quarter in game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the New York Knicks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce will play his final game in a building he called home while creating countless memories for 15 years (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today)

History won’t only be taking place in Houston’s NRG Stadium on Sunday.

Nearly 2,000 miles away from Super Bowl LI, the purest scorer in Celtics history will play his last game in Boston. 

Paul Pierce, who plans to retire after this season, will give Celtics fans one final performance on his beloved parquet when the Clippers visit TD Garden in a pre-Super Bowl matinee at 2 p.m.

Although it’s been nearly four years since Pierce donned a Celtics uniform, his contributions to the city and organization feel fresh. Fifteen years and one unforgettable title ensure him of immortality.

Celtics legends Larry Bird and John Havlicek often headline discussions of the franchise’s best pure scorer, but was there a more dynamic offensive force than Pierce? He could score at a high rate in every way imaginable.

Pierce could take his defender to the rim, score from the mid-range, hit 3’s, and make shots with victory on the line, as his dozen-plus game-winners prove. The 10-time All-Star was an offensive assassin. And his career numbers back it up. 

Not only does he lead the Celtics in most 3-pointers and free-throws made but in both statistical categories, he’s top-10 in NBA history. Only three NBA players have drained more 3-pointers than Pierce (2,137) and he’s eighth in free-throws made (6,916).

He enters Sunday’s game as the 16th leading scorer in league history with 26,361 career points, fittingly, right behind Celtics legend Havlicek (26,395), who is 15th on the list. 

Pierce is not only the best pure scorer in Celtics history, he’s also one of the most gifted offensive talents in league history. Despite being overshadowed by great scorers throughout his prime, starting with Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant in the early 2000s and ending with LeBron James today, Pierce eventually earned his place in their company. Unlike Bird and Havlicek, Pierce didn’t win right away. He entered the league in 1998 at the start of the post-Michael Jordan era and suffered through dizzying ups and downs before help arrived in the form of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, who helped Pierce win the franchise’s 17th title in 2008.

Pierce led the Celtics to the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals by outplaying Iverson and dropping 48 points on the 76ers in the decisive Game 5. He then produced the highlight of that postseason by carrying the Celtics all the way back from a 26-point deficit against the Nets with the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in playoff history.

It took six years for the Celtics to make another deep playoff run, but it proved worth the wait.

After averaging a career-high 26.8 points and shooting 47 percent from the floor in 2005-06, Pierce and the Celtics struggled through a miserable 24-win 2006-07. But everything changed when Danny Ainge acquired Allen and Garnett that summer, giving Pierce the help he needed to prove his name belonged alongside guys like Bryant and James. 

Pierce led the Celtics past the Cavaliers that postseason by surpassing James in a classic Game 7 duel. Pierce finished with 41 points and eventually pushed the C’s to the Finals, where he wrote another chapter in the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. He then cemented his place in Celtics history by beating Bryant, being named Finals MVP, and finally leading the Celtics to banner No. 17.

At that moment, he might’ve been the best basketball player in the world. The summer after winning it all, he was asked if he’d name Bryant the best player in the league.

“I don’t think Kobe is the best player,” Pierce replied confidently. “I’m the best player.”

Pierce’s confidence made him great, but so did the chip he carried on his shoulder after dropping to 10th in the ’98 draft, behind forgettable players like Michael Olowokandi, Tractor Traylor, and Larry Hughes. In fact, it fueled him.

It’s amazing to consider what Pierce didn’t accomplish in his career. He never made first-team All-NBA, he never started an All-Star Game, and he never finished higher than seventh in the MVP voting. But his achievements far outstrip those snubs.

He honed an offensive game that defeated the two greatest players of his generation in the same postseason. His textbook footwork and fade-away step back, combined with a clutch jumper, left him in rarefied air.

There’s only two Celtics who compare as scorers, and even accepting that Havlicek and Bird played in different eras, Pierce’s game still stands out for its diversity. Havlicek played before 3-pointers, and even when Bird was considered the best long-range shooter in the league, the 3 wasn’t the weapon that it is today.

Pierce may not be the best player in Celtics history, but the fact that he’s even in the conversation for best all-around scorer speaks volumes. His Celtics tenure hit some rocky patches — like when he regrettably left the floor in 2005 after being eliminated by the Pacers with gauze wrapped around his head — but he remained committed to returning the Green to glory, a promise he eventually delivered.

He was an unforgettable talent, which is why Sunday’s farewell will be a memorable one.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Feb 10, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce (34) shoots against Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce acknowledges Isaiah Thomas as one of the league’s great scorers (David Butler II/USA Today)

Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas found out on Friday that a future Hall of Famer thinks the 5-foot-9 guard has what it takes to win an NBA title.

In a recent one-on-one interview with Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Paul Pierce commented on this season’s Celtics team and called Thomas a “championship-type player.” The former Celtics captain said that he believes that Thomas, along with the intelligence and guidance of head coach Brad Stevens, have a chance to compete for a championship one day. 

A smile stretched across Thomas’ face when he found out what the Celtics legend had to say about him. 

“I didn’t know that,” Thomas said. “That means everything. From a first-ballot Hall of Famer, a Celtics legend, to say that about me, that means a lot. Like I always say, I don’t care what anybody says but my peers and the people who did it before me. For a guy like that to say that, that’s crazy.”

In light of Pierce playing his final game at TD Garden on Sunday, Thomas added: 

“I’m going to try to find his jersey, so I can get it signed.”

After a 38-point performance in Friday’s win over the Lakers, Thomas is now averaging 29.9 points per game, less than one point away from Russell Westbrook’s league-leading 30.8 point average. 

The last Celtics player to finish a season averaging 29.9 points per game was Larry Bird back in the 1987-88 season. 

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Feb 3, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reacts during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics coach Brad Stevens becomes the first Celtics coach to earn the right to coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars since 2011 (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

After clinching the second-best record in the East, Celtics coach Brad Stevens and his coaching staff have earned the right to coach the Eastern Conference All-Star team. 

The Celtics’ 113-107 win over the Lakers put them 2.5 games ahead of the Wizards, while only two games separate the C’s from first place. Stevens becomes the sixth Celtics coach to ever coach the Eastern All-Star team, the first since Doc Rivers’ coaching staff in 2011. 

Although Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who holds the best record in the Eastern Conference, should be coaching the Eastern All-Stars, he couldn’t because of the NBA rule that disallows coaches to make back-to-back appearances at All-Star games. 

The Celtics held onto the second-best record in the East before the deciding Feb. 5 deadline.

“It should be Ty Lue,” Stevens said. “But the way the rules work then it’s the next-best record because he did it last year. 

“But what’s nice about it is, there’s no politics in it. There’s no subjectivity. It’s what your team has accomplished. And that’s a credit to the players in the locker room. You know, it’s almost a little bit, I almost, feel bad that I’m the one that’s going. I’d rather have another one or two of those guys (the players) playing in it. But our staff will really enjoy it, and our staff’s kids will really enjoy it. And we’ll go from there.”

Stevens was quick to credit his players for putting him in a position to succeed and explained how it takes hard work from talented guys in order for a coach to be successful. 

“I think none of us (coaches) are crazy enough to think you get there without really good players, and the players certainly carry the coaches,” Stevens explained. “That’s been the way it’s always been. But with regard to the staff, I think our staff works really hard. I’ve said before that I’ve tried to prioritize hiring humble, hardworking and intelligent people. And they come every day, they work really hard, they do a lot behind the scenes, they put in a lot of time and effort, and so it’s nice that they’re going to be a part of that as well.”

The 2017 All-Star game will be played on Feb. 19 in New Orleans. 

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

The Boston Celtics now have the most wins in NBA history.

In a showdown between two of the league’s most storied franchises, the Celtics defeated the Lakers, 113-107 and set the NBA team record for most cumulative regular-season wins. 

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

The Boston Celtics now have the most wins in NBA history.

In a showdown between two of the league’s most storied franchises, the Celtics defeated the Lakers, 113-107 and set the NBA team record for most cumulative regular-season wins. 

Both teams entered Friday’s contest at TD Garden tied at 3,252 all-time regular-season victories before Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics fended off their opponent in the final frame and improved to 32-18. Thomas finished with a game-high 38 points and poured in 17 fourth-quarter points to push the Celtics to their sixth consecutive win. 

With 3:50 left, the Lakers pulled to within seven points (101-94) and gave up a golden opportunity to make it a four-point game after the C’s surrendered three offensive rebounds. Boston allowed Louis Williams and D’Angelo Russell each take turns jacking up four straight 3-pointers until Al Horford finally pulled down a defensive rebound — which led to Thomas scoring four straight points.

From there, the Celtics held on.

Jae Crowder finished with 18 points and Jaylen Brown added 12 points to go with his 7 rebounds while Horford flirted with a triple-double (11 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists). 

Williams (21) and Russell (20) combined for 41 points and Larry Nance Jr. added 18 points. 

For a complete box score, click here.

After Terry Rozier knocked in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter, the Celtics picked up their offensive momentum and kicked off the second quarter hitting nine of their first 11 attempts, including all 10 of Jaylen Brown’s first-half points. The C’s outscored their opponent, 33-21 in the frame and took a 62-51 lead into halftime.

Midway through the third quarter, the Celtics went on a 12-2 run and grabbed a 17-point advantage — their biggest lead of the night. However, the Lakers had no response for Thomas’ 17 points as the league’s second-leading scorer continues his offensive hot streak by scoring 30-plus points for the fourth straight game.

With the win, Celtics coach Brad Stevens is officially the head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Although Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue has led his team to the best record in the east he cannot coach the All-Star team in back-to-back years due to the “Pat Riley Rule.” Therefore, the coach with the second-best record is given the honor.

The rule was named after former Lakers head coach Pat Riley, who earned the right to coach the Western Conference team eight times in nine seasons between 1982 and 1990.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Feb 1, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) celebrates during the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas is the first Celtics player since Paul Pierce to win the Eastern Conference Player of the Month (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

This month, Isaiah Thomas made the decision easy for the NBA. 

After putting together one of the greatest scoring months in franchise history, Thomas was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month on Thursday.

Leading the Celtics to a 10-4 record, Thomas averaged 32.9 points and 6.9 assists throughout the month of January and is now the first Celtics player since Paul Pierce (March of 2012) to take home the award.

In light of Wednesday’s 44-point performance, Thomas also stretched his streak of scoring 20 or more points to 33 consecutive games. 

He’s also been invited to participate in All-Star Saturday night’s Skills Challenge. Thomas will compete against a combination of guards and big men including Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, John Wall, Devin Booker, Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid on February 18 in New Orleans.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

The unsung heroes set the stage. And then Isaiah Thomas, as he seems to do on a nightly basis, danced on it.

Trailing by 18 points in a showdown with the Raptors for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics closed the game on a monster 52-29 run behind 44 points from their All-Star point guard to complete a 109-104 victory.

Feb 1, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier (12) and forward Jae Crowder (99) celebrate after Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (54) was called for a foul during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Rozier earned some late-fourth quarter minutes in comeback win against Raptors (Winslow Townson/USA Today)

The unsung heroes set the stage. And then Isaiah Thomas, as he seems to do on a nightly basis, danced on it.

Trailing by 18 points in a showdown with the Raptors for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics closed the game on a monster 52-29 run behind 44 points from their All-Star point guard to complete a 109-104 victory.

Thomas put together another incredible fourth quarter, scoring 19 of his 44 points, but the Celtics reserves set the stage for his heroics. Led by Marcus Smart (10 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds), the bench helped chip away at a double-digit deficit and carried their momentum into the fourth quarter. 

Throughout the third quarter, Smart applied pressure on Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and finished strong on the offensive end by making cuts to the basket for easy layups. He was also finding his teammates for easy assists but was most effective in disrupting the flow of Toronto’s offense. 

Terry Rozier, who finished with 5 points and 7 rebounds, nailed a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to pull the Celtics to within eight. He also pulled down two offensive rebounds in the second half to keep possessions alive and slowed down the Raptors’ reserve guards on the defensive end. Tyler Zeller, who finished with five rebounds and four points, made a reverse dunk and tossed an alley-oop to rookie Jaylen Brown to trim the deficit down to five (91-86).

From there, Thomas went on a 7-0 run — giving the Celtics their first lead with 4:39 left. 

However, Lowry, who led the Raptors with 32 points, helped his team regain the lead by draining five straight points for Toronto. With 48 ticks left, Thomas knocked in a 3-pointer to give the C’s a two-point lead before Patrick Patterson missed a 3-pointer and the Raptors were forced to intentionally foul the Celtics in the final seconds.

Throughout the first half, the Raptors looked unstoppable. Behind superior defense and efficient offense, Toronto had its way with the Celtics despite Thomas’ offensive surge. The Raptors were a tough matchup for the Celtics in a halfcourt set — where the Celtics struggled to defend the pick-and-roll. Whether it was an easy layup down low or an uncontested mid-range jumper, the Raptors made them pay. 

That was until the second half, when the C’s turned up their defensive intensity and made an effort on the glass — where they pulled down 12 offensive rebounds and finished with 11 second-chance points. Without a secondary go-to scorer, the Celtics are going to need guys like Smart, Rozier and Brown to make plays in the second half, especially against top-tier teams like the Raptors. Thomas had the support he needed just in time to catch fire in another dominating fourth quarter. 

With the win, the Celtics (30-18) remain in second place and will look to stretch their winning streak to six games when they take on the Lakers at home on Friday.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Jan 30, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) is congratulated after making a three point basket during the second half of the Boston Celtics 113-109 win over the Detroit Pistons at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas scored the last 11 points for the Celtics (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY)

Topping off one of the best scoring months in franchise history, Isaiah Thomas’ 24-point fourth quarter performance against the Pistons was an emphatic exclamation point to an amazing month of January. 

The two-time All-Star scored a game-high 41 points in a 113-109 Celtics win over the Pistons at TD Garden, leading his team to their fourth straight victory and ultimately guiding them to a one-game lead ahead of the Raptors (29-19) for second place in the Eastern Conference.

His 41 points on Monday pushed his average up to 32.9 points per game for the month of January — the fourth-highest scoring month in Celtics history behind Larry Bird (twice) and Paul Pierce. 

“That doesn’t even seem real,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t sound real. So many great players who did it before me, to have my name up there with those legends is unbelievable. I’m going to just keep going, keep trying to catch those guys, and keep winning.”

The Celtics (30-18) win also sets the stage for Wednesday night’s big showdown between the two best teams in the Atlantic Division. The Raptors have had the Celtics’ number throughout the season — beating them twice over the last two months. But if Thomas can continue this amazing streak of excellence that he’s on, it could be enough for the Celtics to pull out a win against DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and company. 

Along with averaging 32.9 points in January, Thomas also set a season-high average of 6.9 assists per game. Jae Crowder, one of many of Thomas’ beneficiaries in the starting lineup, is also finishing his best month of the season — averaging 16.3 points while shooting 50.3 percent from the floor, including 46.6 percent from behind the arc.

Guys like Marcus Smart (10.9), Kelly Olynyk (10.6) and Jaylen Brown (6.2) are all coming off a month where they’ve played some of the best basketball they’ve played all season, they’re all averaging season-highs in points, respectively, but no player has been more consistent than Thomas. The MVP candidate is continuing to put the C’s on his back and lead them to victories while quickly becoming one of the best scorers in the league (29.4), second behind Russell Westbrook (30.8). 

His amazing month of January has certainly translated into wins as the Celtics finished the month with a 10-4 record and timing couldn’t have been any better. After a three-game skid, the Celtics have strung together a handful of wins while their most-feared competitors in the conference have been playing some of the worst basketball they’ve played all season. 

The Raptors have lost six of their last seven games, while the Cavaliers have dropped four of their last six. All of a sudden, the Celtics find themselves only 2.5 games behind the NBA champs. 

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon