After the Celtics' second loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinal Friday night, a 124-95 blowout in Game 3 at the TD Garden, Paul Pierce wasn't exactly eager to heap all the blame on himself.
Pierce had just shot 4-of-15 in Game 3, offering his lowest offensive output of the playoffs to date at 11 points. He's now shooting 13-of-42, or just a hair under 30 percent, in the series.
But when asked to diagnose the offensive struggles that have dogged him in this series, the Celtics' captain wasn't quite sure how to handle the question.
"You saying me individually?" Pierce asked, noticeably surprised. "I mean, it doesn’t matter what I do offensively, individually. I mean, I could have scored 30 tonight and we probably would have lost the game. … The focus is not on me to score 20, 30 points. Obviously I’ve got to shoot the ball a lot better. Get into my spots and do a better job at that. But it’s not about one person."
Doc Rivers, for his part, maintained that the main problem with the Celtics in Game 3 was their defense. The final score made it easy to agree with him. But he also said in no uncertain terms that Pierce needs to take it upon himself to become more of a factor.
"He’s got to get more involved," Rivers said of Pierce. "He’s got to play better."
But the coach added that when you're busy guarding LeBron James, it's not always that simple.
"Defensively, as a group, we've got to help him some," Rivers said. "And then he’s got to get into LeBron more. So it’s a combination."
As is always the case with these Celtics, it's going to be a team effort. Everyone agrees on that point.
"It's not just one guy," Ray Allen said. "One guy's not going to figure this out. When we've been successful, we've relied on each other. But yeah, Paul has to be more aggressive. Paul does have to attack starting off games. When he does that, we do very well."