Game 5 X Files: The Truth is Still Out There

Paul Pierce has been my favorite Celtic for some time now. Paul pulled this team out of the abyss of the Celtics’ 1990s. He stuck with Boston when other stars on poor teams demanded trades like spoiled children touring a chocolate factory. He stuck with us, and for that I’ll always stick with him. I’m big on the loyalty thing. I don’t think I’m the only Celtics fan that feels this way; this is why Paul’s the Captain. He is a leader who inspires devotion.

I am an unabashed Paul Pierce apologist, and as much as it’s hard to admit it, I’ve been doing a lot of apologizing lately. This series against the Heat hasn’t been his finest work. Paul 36:14 seems like eons ago, though it was really only weeks.

Watching this series with me must feel something like watching with a grumpy old man, lamenting for the days when Paul Pierce could take over games through sheer will. You should have seen Pierce in 2004, I’ve said, or do you remember how he played LeBron in ’08? My family was beginning to give me that look like I was telling them that I walked to school in the snow, uphill both ways.

Paul’s shooting hasn’t exactly been up to par in this series, and his point totals have been padded by free throws. It’s his leg – has been my go-to excuse. He’s injured; he’s just fighting through it. The eyes of the Rondo lover and the Garnett supporter next to me are doubtful and laced with pity. I’ve had to defend comments like – If I have to see him throw away one more pass… He’s getting trapped, I say, the other guys need to come to the ball when that happens. But I know in my head that Pierce used to split traps like peanut shells.

The reality is… I’m making excuses. Pierce has been struggling lately. Garnett and Rondo have been carrying the team.

The first three quarters were hard to watch as a Pierce fan. He didn’t have it on this night but he didn’t stop trying. Stop shooting Pierce! Yelled the spectators from my living room. He’s a shooter, I argued. He needs to shoot to find his rhythm. But doubt was etched on my face. Through three quarters we were winning despite Pierce. 11 points on poor shooting, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists. Ughh…

In my head I always expect Pierce to come through. I’ve seen it so many times. I told my sister at halftime that I felt good about the Celtics in this game. We were not shooting well, but were still in it. Shooting numbers tend to normalize over time, I told her. If Paul can just change a couple of his misses into makes we will win. Thanks for making me look smart, Paul.

8 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in the fourth quarter.

I stood up, yelled something that wasn’t quite a word, and pumped my fist as Pierce drained a three over LeBron to take a two possession lead late in the fourth quarter. I couldn’t help but smile along with the Captain as he ran back to the defensive end. I felt grateful. You just knew at that point that we had won game five.

I remember thinking; damn it’s good to be a Celtics fan.

It’s damn good to know that the Truth is still out there.

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