Paul Pierce has declared himself 100% ready to go. He’s physically fit after a slow start last season (thanks, lockout), and then after a knee injury derailed his effectiveness in the playoffs. Pierce has placed his chips on the table, and he’s all in for the 2012-13 NBA season. The question is – can he stay healthy over an 82-game grind, especially at such an advanced age for an elite athlete?
You’ve heard the old saying – the mind is willing but the body is weak. Pierce is at a point in his career where the bumps and bruises tend to linger a little longer, and the recovery from those hard-fought games and grueling back-to-backs isn’t what it used to be. That’s just the reality of the human condition.
It’s great news that Pierce is healthy. Perhaps it’s even better news that Jeff Green is available to take some of the burden from our man PP. With Green in the fold, Pierce should expect to see his minutes decline in an effort to preserve him for what hopes to be a deep playoff run.
It remains to be seen how Doc Rivers manages minutes and substitution patterns, but smart money has Pierce and Green forming something of a two-headed monster. Yeah, there will likely be times when both are on the court together. But realistically, Doc has to understand that Green is the perfect player to step in when Pierce needs a blow.
Word on the street is that Pierce worked hard during the offseason. He took some time off to heal and to get his head straight, and then he started to focus on strength, flexibility and cardio. The goal is to be better able to withstand the rigors of an NBA season, and to beat back Father Time for at least one more legit title run.
Can he do it? Can Pierce stay healthy and remain effective? Or will his skills sink to a new low on the decline curve?
The jury is still out, but Pierce has convinced me that he’ll be more like the Paul Pierce of old, rather than an old Paul Pierce.