BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics have already lost three players in the last month to season-ending injuries, and those that are still on the court are pretty banged-up themselves.
But the wounded Celtics know they have no other option but to play through the pain. And playing through pain is nothing new for Celtics captain Paul Pierce, who admitted after the Celtics 71-69 win over the Bulls on Wednesday night he’s fighting through a pinched nerve in his neck.
“It’s something that’s been bothering me probably for like the last two months,” Pierce said after shooting just 2-for-12 against Chicago. “It’s getting better, though. The last couple weeks, it’s been better than it has been.”
For the season, Pierce is averaging 18.7 points on 41.9 percent shooting to go along with 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He struggled in December, when the neck bothered him most, but has picked things up with Rajon Rondo going down three weeks ago with an ACL injury. For the month of February, Pierce is averaging 18.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 7.5 assists.
Now, Pierce will get four days of rest as the NBA hits its All-Star break, a mini-vacation that is coming at the right time for the 28-24 Celtics.
“I think this is a perfect time for the break, especially with the injuries we have,” he said. “I think the latest blow with Barbosa (who was lost to an ACL injury on Tuesday), it really hit us mentally and emotionally. Guys really felt that.”
Despite the battles with their emotions — and bodies — Pierce says his team is tough where it counts, and that shows on the court.
“This team is tough mentally. You have every reason to be out of it every night, using injuries as an excuse, the emotions and fatigue. So many excuses are available for us, but somehow, someway, we keep fighting through mentally,” he said. “Doc [Rivers] is doing a great job keeping us focused and pushing us through, and that’s why we’re grinding out these wins.”