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Boston Celtics: Is Paul Pierce on the Decline?

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Boston Celtics: Is Paul Pierce on the Decline?
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At age 34, he was supposed to be finished with winning games for the Boston Celtics, something Beantown has seen him do time and time again.

Yet, in his 14th season in the league, Paul Pierce has proven he is as clutch and proficient on the offensive end today as he has been in the last handful of years for the C's.

Game 5 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals was a statement game for the Celtics' superstar against arguably the best team in basketball in the Miami Heat. Not only did Pierce finish with 19 points and the game-clinching three-point field goal in the waning seconds, but he was able to lead his team to a 3-2 series lead with that shot.

Talk about a big-time bucket.

What has been all the more impressive about Pierce's game this season is the increased production offensively and defensively in the 2011-12 season.

Pierce tends to find his way offensively when his team needs it most. Coming into the 2011-12 season, it was clear Pierce was going to have to find a way to step up his production scoring-wise. 

At 19.4 points per game and 14.6 field goals attempted per contest, Pierce rivaled numbers that he was posting during the 2008-09 season. The 19.4 points and 14.6 field goal attempts were the most since that season, one in which Pierce averaged 20.5 points and 14.6 field goal attempts per contest.

Not to mention, Pierce has become significantly more involved as a playmaker for his teammates as well. In the half-court set, he has been able to find teammates well and give NBA-elite point guard Rajon Rondo his rest during certain stretches throughout games.

The 4.5 assists per game Pierce has posted this season are the most he has put up since the 2007-08 championship run.

As Pierce has continued to produce with his playmaking and scoring abilities, it is clear he is not on the decline. He has improved his regular season production and is having arguably his best series of the NBA playoffs in these 2012 Conference Finals. With the Celtics forcing the Heat to Game 7, there is no doubt Pierce is due a significant amount of credit for the deep run.

Pierce may soon be on his way out of the league, yet make no mistake about it, he's still giving defenses headaches. That's simply 'The Truth'.

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