Inconvenient Truth: C's could use a vet like Pierce

Celtics fans like to "dream big" about having Paul Pierce finish his career in Boston. Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

It's too bad Paul Pierce is having so much fun down there in the nation's capital, because it's a lot of fun to daydream about what it'd be like to have Pierce back in green to finish out his career with the Boston Celtics.

The 37-year-old Pierce, fresh off a customs-hating, Drake-ribbing first-round sweep of the Toronto Raptors, scored 19 points to help the Washington Wizards defeat the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Sunday.

With the Celtics' early exit from the postseason, many fans up here have adopted the Wizards as their new rooting interest in the NBA playoffs.

It's not a hard choice considering the way Pierce has turned back the clocks this postseason.

Pretty much since the moment he was traded to Brooklyn in the summer of 2013, Celtics fans have wondered if Pierce might eventually find his way back to Boston, even if it's just for a front office role when his playing career is over.

But as a young Celtics team struggled to get over the hump against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs this year, fans looked wistfully at the Wizards and wondered if things might be a little different if Boston had a battle-tested, trash-talking veteran like Pierce to anchor an inexperienced roster.

Pierce holds a $5.5 million player option for the second and final season of a two-year pact he inked with the Wizards last summer in the aftermath of a rough stint in Brooklyn. He might be able to find another midlevel deal on the open market, especially after his postseason exploits, but he seems to be enjoying his time in Washington and has to like the direction of the Wizards.

Back in Boston, Pierce's old friends have enjoyed watching him play with familiar swagger.

"I love watching Paul play and I'm happy for him," said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. "He's played really well so far in the playoffs. [The Wizards] are a good team, they have a lot of good pieces."

During Boston's first-round series against the Cavaliers, Avery Bradley said he was focused on the task at hand and was unaware of how well Pierce was playing. But when told how Pierce had successfully riled up part of Canada with his actions, Bradley laughed.

"The one thing I do know about Paul Pierce from playing with him is that he’s a true competitor and he goes out there and he proves himself," Bradley said. "That’s Paul Pierce."

Through five postseason games, Pierce is averaging 16.2 points per game while shooting 54.2 percent from the floor and 51.5 percent beyond the 3-point arc. Pierce has stepped up in big moments, which is noteworthy considering how Ainge spent part of his after-the-season news conference last week talking about how the Celtics need players that are capable of scoring in crunch-time situations.

"I think the hardest skill to find in our league is guys that can score in the fourth quarter -- the last-six-minutes-of-the-game-type scorers, offensive creators," Ainge said. "Usually the offensive patterns don’t score baskets at that time -- usually, it’s the individuals and talent. I think that that’s always a priority, regardless of need by position.

"But those kind of players are hard to find. I think that Isaiah [Thomas], he’s our best at that right now, so it would be nice to find one or two more of those before the season starts next year. And ideally at other positions."

Make no mistake, the Celtics are embracing their youth movement. The team's desire to add more individual talent will center more on players in their prime than those riding into the sunset. But every championship-caliber team tends to have those crafty veterans that make big plays in crucial spots, especially when the calendar reads May or June.

So forgive Celtics fans if they spend the rest of the postseason dreaming about the potential of Brad Stevens' team if it brought back its core, added some top-level talent and had Pierce back for one last ride.

One thing is certain: Regardless of how Boston looks to upgrade its roster this offseason, finding a savvy veteran like Pierce to help bring the younger players along certainly wouldn't hurt this team's progress.