It's hard to play any better than Paul Pierce did on Wednesday night.
His performance bordered on perfection: 40 points (13-of-16 from the field, 6-of-7 from three, 8-of-8 at the free-throw line), eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block in 34 minutes.
He scored 15 points (on 7-of-7 shooting) during the first seven minutes of the second half.
He couldn't find a shot he didn't like.
It wasn't an unfamiliar site for Boston fans, just one they hadn't seen in a while from the former Kansas Jayhawk:
Pierce with 40 against the Cavs. Last Celtic with 40 at home; Pierce vs. the Cavs in Game 7 in '08, and RS, Pierce vs. the Cavs in '06.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) December 20, 2012
Well, the scoring wasn't unfamiliar. His shooting display, though, was something that the league hadn't seen in years:
A note on Paul Pierce's efficiency: Last player with 40+ points on 80% shooting, Gilbert Arenas in 2006. @hpbasketball— matt r (@Ranzington) December 20, 2012
It's been a bumpy year for the Celtics and for their leader of the last decade-plus.
His 41.9 percent field-goal percentage heading into the contest marked a new career low for the 14-year veteran.
The team hasn't fared much better. They entered Wednesday's game losers of three straight, including a 100-89 loss in Chicago on the previous night.
The frustrations appeared to be reaching their boiling point:
Postgame last night was Clearly the most frustrated and upset ive seen Paul pierce in a long time. As he searches for the celtics identity— greg dickerson (@gdickerson_csn) December 19, 2012
Rather than dwell on those frustrations, though, Pierce may have just used that for his take-off point:
. @gdickerson_csn said Pierce was more frustrated last night than he'd seen in "a long time." Pierce followed it up with 40. Coincidence?— Celtics Town (@CelticsTown) December 20, 2012
The Celtics need a productive Pierce if they hope to factor in the Eastern Conference postseason.
There's no bigger truth in Boston hoops than that.