BOSTON — Paul Pierce never gives himself a pass. After a dispiriting loss to the Knicks in Game 6 on Friday, when the Celtics’ furious comeback from a 26-point deficit in the fourth quarter fell short, Pierce turned a harsh spotlight on his own play in the playoff series.
“I didn’t perform at my best,” Pierce said. “I really struggled the last couple games offensively. But you’ve got to give credit to what they were able to do defensively. They put a lot of pressure on me. They doubled the ball a lot. They did a great job.”
The defeat was doubly disappointing for Pierce because his future in Boston is unclear. The Celtics can buy out his $15 million contract for next season for just $5 million this summer, and calls for team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to move on from the Pierce era have been growing for years. If Friday turns out to be Pierce’s last time on an NBA court as a Celtic, he does not plan on it being his last time on an NBA court, period.
“I definitely expect to be playing next year,” Pierce said.
Pierce did not elaborate, saying multiple times that he leaves the decision to Ainge and the Celtics’ front office. Pierce has said countless times that he would like to finish his career with the Celtics, however, and Kevin Garnett reaffirmed after Friday’s game that whether Pierce is still playing will have an impact on whether he will play out the last two years of his contract.
Pierce still wants to play. Sometime in the next few months, he will find out if the Celtics want him to play for them.