At the end of the year, in particular a year with 66 games crammed into too small of a schedule, players get banged up and tired. You have to imagine that it impacts some of the older veterans even more than usual. That seemed to be the case with Paul Pierce last year. He clearly wasn't himself and the Celtics suffered a lot because of it. It didn't help that he started off the season hurt and had to play his way back into shape. Apparently that won't be the case this year.
On his knee injury (in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Hawks): "I’m 100 percent now, but … that really limited me, because there was no treatment that I could’ve done at the time that was going to get it better. It limited me as far as a lot of lateral movement and jumping ability — not that I had a lot of jumping ability anyway. … It was definitely a mental grind at that point. I’m just happy that’s behind me. I think the key for us if we’re going to win another championship is going to be our health. You have to be good, and you have to be lucky. Sometimes those are things you can’t control. As you saw, since our first year we won it, we haven’t been lucky enough to be healthy, so hopefully we’re healthy this year and we can make another run at it."
Good to hear that he's feeling good headed into the season. Now it is up to Doc Rivers to keep him that way. To that end, he might start to put him on a minutes rotation like he did with KG last year.
Rivers doesn't have a set number of minutes in mind for Pierce, either, but he did acknowledge he might experiment with the 5-5-5 minute structure he already has employed for Kevin Garnett. "We may even do a little bit of it with Paul. It's hard to do it with two guys like that, honestly," Rivers said. "But we've talked a lot about our minutes with those two, in particular, as a staff, and we've come up with a lot of things. But they all sound great and then you get in the game. Like I said last year, it only works if it works for the player, and it worked for Kevin. We're going to try some things with Paul in the preseason and just see how that goes."
I doubt that you'll see Doc pulling both KG and Pierce after 5 minutes. He'll probably try to stagger it a little more than that. On the other hand, he'll finally have Jeff Green available to give him some quality minutes while Pierce is resting. How Doc handles all the minutes will be an interesting development early in the season.