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Kevin Garnett (left) and Paul Pierce (right) are set to surprise many doubters
Fragile. Old. Over the hill. Washed up.
These are just some of the adjectives used to describe veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
But while the duo’s combined NBA experience is five years senior of the age of starting point guard Rajon Rondo—26-years-old—that doesn’t mean they still can’t play.
The 2011-12 campaigns of both former all-stars might have proven otherwise.
Pierce had a season to forget shooting wise.
His 44.3 shooting percentage and 36.6 percent from beyond the arc were his worst numbers since the 2003-04 season when he shot 40.2 percent from the floor and 29.9 percent from three-point range.
It only got worse in the postseason.
Pierce struggled mightily, only shooting 38.6 percent from the floor. It went down as his second-worst postseason output of his career.
Garnett shared much of the same difficulties.
During the regular season, Garnett shot 50.3 percent from the floor. The last time he shot that low was back in 2004-05 when he shot 50.2 percent from the floor.
Moreover, when the game was on the line, in places Garnett previously shined, he was nowhere to be found. Shots that used to go in, now bounce off the rim.
The mojo Garnett once possessed seemed to be fading.
But while the doubt only increased, both Pierce and Garnett proved they still had something left in the tank during the postseason.
Garnett showed the most improvement, averaging 19.2 PPG. It served as a huge leap from his two previous postseason averages of 14.9 and 15.0 PPG respectively. He also shot 49.7 percent from the floor.
Where he crumbled in the regular season, he thrived in the postseason. He kept the Celtics close late in some games and helped the Celtics pull away in others.
On the other hand, while Pierce’s shooting may have slumped, the 14-year veteran proved to be as clutch as ever. It was most noticeable during the Miami Heat in the Conference finals.
Time and time again, when the Celtics needed a bucket late in the game, Pierce would be the one to step up and make it for them.
In Game 5, with the series tied 2-2, Pierce netted eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. That included a shot clock-beating three-pointer over the hands of LeBron James with less than a minute remaining. The bucket sealed the game and gave the Celtics a 3-2 series lead.
Pierce has continued on that note during the preseason.
In five games, Pierce is shooting 49 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc, while leading the team with 15.8 PPG. This includes a performance against the Brooklyn Nets when Pierce scored 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, while going 6-of-8 from three-point range.
Garnett has only played sparingly in the preseason, averaging 4.5 PPG in just 14.8 MPG. However, while on the floor he has made a difference.
The rest of the league might be ready to call for the curtains on the career for the pair, but they’re still ready for the rest of the league to call them champions one more time.
The Celtics will need both if they hope to do just that.