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Paul Pierce likes what he sees in this transformed Celtics squad.

Speaking on ESPN’s “The Jump,” the retired forward and former Celtics captain said he thinks Kyrie Irving is better off as a member of the Celtics, even though he is coming off three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals with Cleveland.

“I thought the Cleveland window was closing, probably in the next two or three years, because Boston was really approaching fast,” he said. “With the young players surrounded by the veterans, this could be a team that could be in the finals three or four times in the next five or six years.”

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Pierce is confident that Irving’s extensive resume and accomplishments will allow him to craft a veteran leadership role in Boston after just six seasons in the league.

“I think he’s finally learned under the tutelage of LeBron, and now he’s ready to take that step,” he continued. “He’s been the prince, he wants to be the king now.”

However, even with the additions of Irving and Gordon Hayward, Pierce thinks that the Cavaliers are still the better team from a roster standpoint. Citing the team’s depth and experience, he said he believes Cleveland is still the team to beat in the East. But, he also knows the Celtics will be doing everything they can to eclipse their conference rivals.

“These are guys who are hungry for a championship,” he continued. “Boston knows that they’re close. They’ve been to the Eastern Conference Finals, they won the East last year. They figured that the next step is going to the Finals.”