Celtics Defeat Wizards: Can Paul Pierce's Performance Change Boston's Outlook?

Gideon ResnickContributor IIIJanuary 22, 2012

Paul Pierce had a flash of brilliance in Boston's win over the struggling Washington Wizards
Paul Pierce had a flash of brilliance in Boston's win over the struggling Washington WizardsElsa/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards are not a good basketball team. So, the fact that the hobbled, struggling Celtics beat them 100-94 on Sunday is not all that significant.

Aside from Paul Pierce's performance. 

Recovering from a heel injury, Pierce has not played nearly his best this season. He was averaging 14.9 points per game prior to Sunday's win, but he put up 34 against the Wizards. Pierce also grabbed eight rebounds and 10 assists in an all-around stellar performance.

With Rajon Rondo out and Ray Allen leaving the game in the first half with a left ankle injury, Pierce needs to absolutely remain healthy in order to give Boston a fighting chance in the Eastern Conference. 

Kevin Garnett had a quality game as well, with 17 points, including five in the final two minutes. Now 6-9, the Celtics have won half of their games against the struggling Wizards, who are now 2-14. 

What remains to be seen is if there is hope for the Celtics to make the playoffs and cause damage upon getting there. Injuries are a monumental concern for the team, as the C's look slow, tired and old right now.

The next few games will have a lot of implications for Boston. The Celtics face Orlando twice in a row, with Rondo and Allen being questionable for the next game at least. The Magic are on a hot streak, winning six of the last seven games they've played. 

Now that Pierce seems to have recovered, he needs to remain consistent as a scoring threat.

The Big Three has diminished in stature as the years have gone on. Boston is always a threat in playoff scenarios because of experience and tenacity, but its chances to make something of its season are quickly dwindling.

In a scenario where the Celtics are the No. 8 seed in the playoffs and are forced to take on either the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls, they have absolutely no chance.

Despite the fact that lethargy is taking its toll on the Celtics, Pierce's performance today can still inspire some optimism.