Tag Archives: Ray Allen

Ray Allen Says Isaiah Thomas Should Win MVP. Why Isn’t Anyone Else?

When you’re in an MVP race, it’s always nice to get some love from the greats to help sway voters in your favor. Recently, Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas got a nod from the recently retired Ray Allen.

Allen was recently a guest on The Rich Eisen Show, and he was asked for his opinion on the current MVP race.

“Right now, I’d have to say Isaiah Thomas.” Allen said. “I like Isaiah… You take him off that roster, I don’t know how successful they’d be.”

Judging by these comments, it seems Allen views the MVP in a very literal sense. He argues that without Isaiah, the Celtics wouldn’t be any good.

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The assertion that the Celtics wouldn’t be good without Thomas is in contrast to several remarks made earlier in the season by Boston media personalities who thought the Celtics did just fine without Thomas during a stretch in December.

“11 assists on 13 buckets. Is it just me or does the ball move better without Isaiah Thomas?” tweeted Tony Massarotti, co-host of Felger and Mazz on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Comments like this seemed to irk Thomas, who was battling a groin injury and was forced to sit several games.

“They gotta write something. They say the stupidest things so they get the headlines and everybody can talk about it,” Thomas said. “I can’t control that. At this point, I laugh about it now. Because it’s like, if you really think that, OK, that’s fine. I know what I mean to my teammates, I know what I mean to this organization and to Brad Stevens.”

From that point on, Thomas went on an MVP-worthy stretch that not only catapulted the Celtics to second in the East, but launched Thomas right in the thick of the MVP race.

In early February, CBS Sports had Thomas in a three-way tie for first in the MVP race with James Harden and Russell Westbrook. At this time, Thomas was second in the league with 29.9 PPG and led the league in fourth quarter scoring. At the time, Bill Reuter of CBS Sports wrote “Will it last? No idea. But for the time being he belongs right here, in the mix for the MVP with Westbrook and Harden.”

Contrary to Bill Reuter’s nod to Thomas, Ray Allen’s remarks come at a time when hype around a potential MVP title for Thomas seems to be cooling down outside of Boston media.

Since Reuter’s article was published on February 8, the narrative of the MVP race seems to have changed. That same source, CBS Sports, published a lengthy article today detailing a new tie for first: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden. In a feature-length article with over twenty paragraphs, Isaiah Thomas was not mentioned once. What gives?

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Part of the reason Thomas has faded out of MVP contention is that a lot of people suddenly remembered that Kawhi Leonard is really good. Leonard and the Spurs’ rise in the Western Conference has outshadowed the Celtics’ Eastern Conference domination, and while Thomas is good, he has been relegated to a secondary tier of MVP candidates along with the likes of John Wall and Kevin Durant.

The truth is, while Thomas has played great since his peak in February, it hasn’t been enough to capture the attention of voters enough to pull away from the gargantuan forces of Westbrook, LeBron, Kawhi and Harden. Most of his MVP attention came after a stretch where he scored 37, 41, 44 and 38 points. It would take another extended stretch like this for Thomas to get serious MVP consideration, whether fair or not. He’s second in the league in scoring and he’s leading the Celtics to their best finish in years, but that simply isn’t enough when you’re going against a guy who is nearly averaging a triple double for the season in Russell Westbrook.

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So while Allen’s claim that the Celtics wouldn’t be much without Thomas may be true, it’s going to take a whole lot more than that to win votes.

The final push for Thomas, however, may have to wait several days. He is currently dealing with a bone bruise in his right knee and might miss the weekend’s games.

Allen also said in his interview that he believes the Celtics will make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. So far, this is shaping up to be a thrilling finish, and you can expect Thomas to do everything he can to ensure the Celtics can make that claim a reality.

 

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Paul Pierce to Retire at the Conclusion of the 2016-2017 Season

If you’re a Celtics fan born from the time Larry Bird called it quits in 1992 to say, 2000, then Paul Pierce is your favorite player in the NBA. This isn’t left up for opinion; if he isn’t then you’re just wrong. Paul Pierce, drafted 10th overall by the Boston Celtics in 1998, has decided to retire at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 NBA season.

Screen Shot 2016-09-30 at 11.57.55 AM.pngThe 10 time All-Star by way of Kansas was drafted to a Celtics team in 1998 with no real identity. They only finished above .500 one time after Bird retired in ’92 to the time Pierce was drafted, making the playoffs only twice and losing in the first round of the playoffs each time. In the ’01-’02 season, Pierce’s fourth year in the league, they were back in the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Paul led the team that year in scoring with 26.1 PPG and led the Celtics to the Conference Finals before losing to the New Jersey Nets in 6 games. Despite a disappointing finish to the season, the Celtics had the largest fourth quarter comeback in NBA playoff history by coming back from a 21-point deficit. Paul Pierce had 19 points in that quarter, and so began his cementation as a legitimate force in the NBA, making his first All-Star appearance earlier that year.

Even so, Pierce never found himself on a Championship team. After losing to the Nets, the Celtics made the postseason the three following years, losing in the Conference Semifinals once and the first round twice. In the ’05-’06 and ’06-’07 seasons, the Celtics missed the playoffs all together. Pierce still averaged 26.8 and 25 PPG respectively in those two seasons under new head coach, Doc Rivers. Statistically, the ’05-’06 season was Pierce’s best season of his career as he also averaged a near career high 6.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists. This was partially a testament to the lack of weapons around Pierce leading to the necessity of more dominance from “The Truth,” a moniker given to Paul by legend, Shaquille O’Neil. But after missing the postseason for two straight years, Danny Ainge had seen enough.

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In the offseason following the ’06-’07 season, Ainge began to talk to the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade for now recently retired, Kevin Garnett. Garnett, however, had a no-trade clause that he was not willing to waive to go to the Boston Celtics. But then Ainge acquired the sharpshooting Ray Allen before the draft from the Seattle Supersonics. This was all Garnett needed to see to give Boston a shot, and now the Boston Celtics had a new big three for the upcoming 2007-2008 season in Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce.

It didn’t take long for the big three to get acclimated. In just their first season together, they finished with 66 wins—1st in the Eastern Conference. It took 7 games in each of their first two round against the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavilers. Game 7 of the Cavs series was a staple game in Paul Pierce’s career. Trading blows back and forth for four quarters, Paul Pierce and LeBron James were going toe–to-toe in a barnburner of a game. Pierce finished with 41 points to LeBron’s 45, and the Celtics bested the Cavilers 97-92. They then advanced to the NBA finals to play the Los Angeles Lakers after defeating the Detroit Pistons in 6.

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It was a storybook ending to a storybook season. The two most storied franchises in NBA history going head to head for the first time since the Bird-Magic days. It took 6 games and the Celtics won their first NBA Championship since 1986. Paul Pierce won Finals MVP with a line of 21.8/4.5/6.3 through the six games. As Pierce’s teammate and friend, Kevin Garnett exclaimed, “Anything is possible!”

Since game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, Pierce’s career has been more of a struggle to win it all. The Celtics made the Finals again two years later, this time losing to the Lakers in 7 games. Then, after losing in the first round of the playoffs in 2013, it was the end of an era. Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and others to the Brooklyn Nets. Though still productive, Pierce and Garnett were aged and another championship just wasn’t foreseeable for the duo. It was time to move on and Ainge made the move that is still paying off for the Celtics to this day.

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The trade clearly left Paul Pierce in shock and even sadness. Even more devastating for Celtics fans was the monotone press conference from Pierce, followed by a photo opt of him holding up a black and white Brooklyn jersey deeming no. 34. He averaged 13.5 ppg during his year in Brooklyn where he clearly just didn’t feel at home, the lowest points per game in his career. It was most evident Pierce didn’t feel at home in Brooklyn when the Nets played the C’s for the first time in 2013 at the Boston Garden. A press conference with KG and him showed them both sitting there timidly, giving soft answers, showing nothing but the most love for the city of Boston. Garnett did most of the talking while Pierce stared blankly ahead, seemingly fighting back tears. Hell just writing about it has me fighting back tears. And Paul later admitted his time in Brooklyn was horrible, but seemed to find solace the next year as a Washington Wizard.

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The Wizards, with the backcourt tandem of the explosive John Wall and sharpshooting Bradley Beal, lost the Conference Semis while Paul Pierce was playing in Brooklyn. Pierce couldn’t help the Wizards get over that hump, finishing with the 5th seed in the East, the same as the previous year, and again losing the Conference Semifinals. Pierce did, however, add intensity and quite frankly, balls to their playoff run. Pierce hit a game winning shot as time expired against the Hawks in Game 3 of the Semis. When ESPN analyst, Chris Brousard, asked him if he called bank, Pierce famously, and badass-edly replied, “I called game.” Oh how I missed that intensity and clutchness of Paul Pierce. Pierce also hit a go ahead shot late in Game 6 before a defensive breakdown from the Wizards’ big men let the Hawks get an easy 2 points to take lead and the series. And so ended Paul Pierce’s tenure in the nation’s capital, where he finished the season continuing his decline, averaging just under 12 points per game and a then career low 26.2 minutes.

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The 2015 offseason was exciting with Pierce news. We knew he wasn’t going back to the Wizards, and in the twilight it only seemed fitting for him to come back to Boston for one more year and finish where he started. Unfortunately this was not the case. Pierce signed a 3 year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. Though disappointed, I couldn’t be mad at his decision to go to Los Angeles, for that is where he grew up and he got to play under Doc Rivers whom he won with in 2008. His role in LA was limited, getting just a shade over 18 minutes per game and 6.1 points per game. He clearly isn’t the same the player he was in Boston. Nobody is at the age of 38. But it has been an absolute pleasure watching Paul Pierce play basketball for as long as I’ve been able to form a memory.

He will play his final season as a Clipper. I’m sure many Celtics fans wish he’d play his last season in the Green, and I get that. A part of me does too. But it just doesn’t make sense. Pierce just isn’t a productive NBA player like he once was. Father time has caught up to him after over 1300 games, 1102 of them as a Celtic (not including postseason). He brought a basketball championship to the city of Boston; a feat not done since Larry Bird played on the parquet of the old Garden. Though his playing days in Boston are over, his time is not. He is still a part of the community and as Doc Rivers has said, Paul Pierce will retire a Celtic. We will see him in green one more time when he signs a one-day contract with the Celtics at the conclusion of the season. Goodbye Paul Pierce, and Thank You.