The team isn't exactly satisfied with the loss last night, and they shouldn't be. But as a fan, I'm encouraged by the 3-1 road trip. KG and Allen continued to look better but Pierce might need some rest soon.
Pierce was 2 for 10 against Denver, making his biggest contributions on defense, blocking four shots. But he said the nagging injury to his shooting hand has limited him. "It’s sore right now,’’ Pierce said. "It’s affecting my shot a lot. Right now, I’m not really looking to be aggressive with it. I’m just trying to do the other little things to help this ball club and hopefully in the next few days it’ll get better.’’ Pierce already has missed seven games this season with knee and foot problems, and coach Doc Rivers said he’s considering giving the forward more time off to mend. "You can see it on free throws,’’ Rivers said, alluding to Pierce’s 1-for-4 afternoon from the line. "I think the thumb, the knee, and the foot, it may have caught up to him right now. We may have to look at giving him some rest. I don’t know yet, but on the surface that’s the way it looks like it’s going.’’
After a grueling first half schedule, it looks like the whole team will get a slightly easier workload down the stretch.
There are 28 games left in the regular season and the Celtics are past the difficult portion of their schedule. What’s more, they can use the next two months to emphasize relentless defensive execution, because as we learned on this trip, the Celtics are capable of winning many games with the good defense/bad offense combination rather than the opposite. Of the 28 remaining games, 17 come against teams that would not quality for the playoffs if the season ended today, including three each against the Knicks and Bucks and two each against the Pistons and Wizards. This allows the opportunity for the Celtics to make up ground on the Magic and Cavaliers while working on cementing their identity for the playoffs.