LOS ANGELES — There is a good chance Monday’s game between the Celtics and Clippers was the last Paul Pierce will play against Boston, his former team. If Pierce does retire at season’s end, the impact he had on Celtics guard Avery Bradley will endure.
Bradley and Pierce were teammates in Boston for three seasons, the longest connection between Pierce and any current Celtics player.
“He’s probably one of the most competitive people I know when it comes to everything, even preparing for the game,” Bradley said.
“If I was out here running sprints to just warm my body up, Paul would probably tie his shoes up and do the same thing. He just always wants to be the best and he wants to prepare the best, and I was able to learn a lot from him as far as respecting the game and being professional. I learned so much from him and I appreciate him. Definitely one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with.”
Bradley said he has seen many players declare that they want to be great, but few like Pierce who truly understand how much work and preparation are required to become great. He said Pierce’s work ethic set an example for the other Celtics.
“The guys we were able to learn it from were the Kevin Garnetts and the Paul Pierces,” Bradley said. “They were consistent every single day. It kind of rubbed off on everybody else, and we were able to become better players and then become a better team because of those guys.
“The one thing I can say is it’s always been an honor to be on the floor with them.”
Before Monday’s game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers recalled what it was like to return to Boston with Pierce on his side again when they faced the Celtics in February.
“It’s a special place, but it was really cool to see Paul,” Rivers said. “Paul is far more emotional than he lets on, so it was just really good, especially a guy who’s done what he’s done at the end of his career, to be appreciated.’’
“It’s nice, and it’s nice for the coach to see a player he’s coached get that, and he deserves it.”
. . .
With just over two minutes left in the second quarter, Pierce drove through the lane and had a slight collision with Celtics forward Jared Sullinger, causing Pierce to land awkwardly on his right leg, as his right foot bent under him.
Pierce immediately crumpled to the ground in pain and the Clippers rushed over to him. Pierce was eventually helped to the bench by Clippers guard Chris Paul and a member of the team’s training staff before being taken to the locker room.
According to the Clippers, Pierce suffered a right ankle sprain and right knee contusion, and one member of the team’s public relations staff said the belief is that he “dodged a bullet.”
Prior to the injury, Pierce had tallied 8 points and three rebounds in 11 minutes.
. . .
Coach Brad Stevens said forward Jae Crowder is in line to take part in a good portion of Wednesday’s practice in Portland as he works back from a high ankle sprain. He said there is a possibility Crowder could play Thursday against the Trail Blazers.
“We’ll see how he reacts to practice Wednesday and we’ll see how much he can do after two more days of treatment,” Stevens said.
“But the plan of attack is that he will be pretty available for practice, for most of what we will do in Wednesday’s practice.”
Crowder was injured during the Celtics’ game against the Rockets on March 11. Including that game, the team lost its first four games without Crowder, but it entered Monday night’s game against the Clippers with a four-game winning streak.
. . .
The Celtics have an open roster spot after declining to sign forward Coty Clarke for the rest of the season after his second 10-day contract expired Sunday.
The team was pleased with the play of Clarke, but it preferred to keep an opening in case an injury required a need at a specific position.
Stevens said he had not spoken with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge about the void, but Stevens described the player Boston might seek if it chooses to fill it.
“It’s still the same old deal for us,” he said. “If we bring in somebody it will probably be a versatile [small forward or power forward], unless we have an unforeseen injury.”
Players who were waived after March 1 are not eligible to take part in the playoffs if they are signed this season. But NBA players waived prior to that deadline, D-League players, and players returning from playing in short-season leagues overseas would be eligible.
Stevens was complimentary of Clarke, who scored 6 points and gathered a rebound in limiting playing time with the Celtics.
“He showed his ability to shoot the ball, stretch the floor,” Stevens said. “In practices, I thought he showed a good ability to switch [defensively], which is an important skill. And then I think it’s just a matter of getting opportunities for guys like that.
“I think the NBA is full of great stories like that where, whether it’s somebody in the third unit or somebody at the end of the second unit, that really started unknown and worked their way up because they provided a specific skill that allowed them to be successful. And his specific skill is shooting.”