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Thank You, Paul

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When last we spoke (by which I mean "when last I addressed you), it was out of my concern for the sort of on-court behavior that could lead to you not being able to be on the court at crucial moments, a discussion that was born out of your ejection from a Martin Luther King Day matinee in New York.  When last I wrote about you, it came from my wonder about where the slashing Paul of old had gone and why a settling Paul had stepped into his place.  Not exactly the two most positive bits of correspondence for someone who has been one of the faces of my favorite team for the past decade.

Which means that I would be more than remiss to leave this space vacant of a note of gratitude to you this morning.   Because in the latest 'biggest game of the season,' there you were: Paul Pierce doing Paul Pierce things.  Just like we asked, and just enough to bring home a win for the green.

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The results might not have been there all night, Paul, but the mindset was, and we didn't miss that.  And by the time the evening was over, the results had certainly arrived.

We saw a player who was determined to work hard to get to the rim.  Even if finishing was a problem early on, we saw a Paul Pierce who stuck to his guns and kept attacking harder and harder.  It was a Paul Pierce who wasn't going to be satisfied with long contested jumpers. early in the shot clock but instead a PP who was looking to calmly make the right play all night long.

We saw you keep working to get to the rim, and we saw the foul calls start to come and the buckets begin to drop.  We saw how a few successful trips to the hoop got you in rhythm and bought you some space to work from mid-range.

When you did move back beyond the arc, it was hard to ask any more of your decision-making.  The calm ball-fake to send a defender flying followed by resetting your stance and canning a suddenly wide open three was the beautiful epitome of the type of game you played throughout the evening.

Perhaps more than anything else, it was just such a wonderful feeling to see the way you wanted the ball throughout this game, particularly at the end.  You made sure the ball was in your hands so that you could make the crucial trips to the line for this Celtics team last night, and the team didn't regret it as you banged 11 of 13 free throw attempts.  Yes, we saw you get lucky on one out-of-control play late in the game when the officials bailed you out with a trip to the line, but those are the types of situations that become a lot more likely to go your way when you are doing the right things in the first place, just as you did throughout the evening.  You were taking the ball to the rack and making things happen, and this beloved green team of ours repaed the benefits.

It didn't hurt that you managed to do your offensive work without sacrificing your efforts on the other end.  Sure, LeBron was hot early in the game, but that had a whole lot more to do with the fact that he is, after all, LeBron James than it did with any lack of attentiveness on your part.  He has now been hot like that for a total of one half of five games in this series thus far.  You'll find no complaints to be had here.

So on a night when Raj deservedly took the lead role and KG put up a dominant 26-16 performance of his own, you deserve to know, Paul, that your efforts were most certainly not unnoticed.

Thanks for being there for all of us last night.  Thanks for being Paul Pierce.


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