BOSTON (CBS) — Paul Pierce hit countless clutch shots during his career with the Celtics. Now he’s an analyst, and one of the many pundits analyzing an extremely disappointing season for his former team.

The Celtics are a mess at the moment, sitting at 20-20 with their first-half inconsistencies following them into the second half of the season. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to cement themselves as stars of the league, but other than some recent flashes from Robert Williams, there hasn’t been much to get excited about with the 2020-21 Celtics.

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In a recent interview with WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton to discuss the team’s new partnership with Bushmills Whiskey, Pierce said that it’s pretty clear where all these struggles are coming from.

“They lack depth, they really do,” said Pierce. “You have two All-Stars in Jaylen and Jayson up front. … But I believe they rely so much on their two All-Stars every night, and people don’t realize how young these guys are. You’re relying on them to win games and take you to the next step in getting to the Finals. But they lack depth. When you look top down, you have [Marcus] Smart and other guys who are solid players, but they don’t have anything consistent.”

Outside of Tatum and Brown, who have had their occasional struggles as well, the Celtics aren’t getting much elsewhere on the roster. Injuries have limited how much Boston’s core has played together, but even with their full squad recently, the struggles have continued.

In years past, the Celtics actually played better when someone was missing from the lineup. They used to be a team that would embrace that “Next Man Up” mantra and even thrive in it.

Now, they fold in the face of adversity, relying on Tatum and Brown to carry the load every night.

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“This has been the story of the Celtics for years. It’s why the starters play heavy minutes come playoff time, and if they don’t play well they’re in a dog fight,” said Pierce.

Pierce said that the pressure is now on Danny Ainge to make a move to help this roster at next week’s trade deadline.

“I don’t want them to feel it. You have to have a strong mindset and strong shoulders. But it’s a 10,” he said of the pressure on Ainge. “It’s desperation time because the Lakers have 17 and we have 17, and we don’t want them passing us as the team with the most championships in NBA history.

“We’ve been this close how many years? There is no reason we can’t figure it out,” Pierce added. “We need to figure it out right now.”

With his former team struggling for much of the season, Pierce joked that the franchise’s partnership with Bushmills has come at a great time.

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“It’s a great partnership because when you look at this iconic brand and the originally of it, it fits my personality. Now as a retired fan of the game, I can go back and talk some stuff about the Celtics when they lose and have a glass of Bushmills while I tear a hole in them,” he joked.

CBSBoston.com Staff