When he joined the Clippers this summer, Clippers Nation was more than welcoming to the player that had just hit clutch shot after clutch shot in the previous years' playoffs. That player, Paul Pierce, joined the Clippers from Washington with the hopes of reuniting with his former coach to win another championship. It was a beautiful homecoming for a future Hall-of-Famer.
But the results thus far have not been quite so picture-perfect. Instead, Pierce has averaged a career low 5.8 points per game, playing about half as many minutes as in past seasons. These short-comings, along with his mere 34% field goal percentage, have regulated Pierce to the bench during the end of many games, and without a clear role on this team.
Pierce, however, has not given up on this season. Rather, as reported by the Los Angeles Times' Ben Bolch, he believes that his experience and mental fortitude will allow him to be a key contributor during the playoffs:
"Great players just find another notch and another button they can push when they get to that time of year because they know that time of the year you lose four games, you go home. You lose four games in the regular season, you still play. So it's definitely a different mind-set."
With Blake Griffin coming back to the rotation, it is likely that Pierce's minutes decrease even more. But since neither Luc Mbah a Moute nor Wesley Johnson have placed themselves as the clear answer at Small Forward, it is not outside of the realm of reason that Pierce could get hot and be a fourth-quarter presence. Again, however, with the Clippers having so many great scores in the core rotation, it would take a lot for Pierce to become any kind of primary scorer.
His teammates don't seem to doubt his abilities, though: "He was born with that clutch gene," says Jamal Crawford.
And one cannot really disagree, at least until this point.