By ROBERT LEE
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON - Paul Pierce is human after all.
The Truth, who Kevin Garnett recently started calling Superman, was held to a combined 15 points on 5-of-22 shooting in Boston's wins over San Antonio and Memphis over the weekend.
That was on the heels of torching Chicago for 37 points and Miami for 36.
With only 10 games remaining and Pierce being forced to carry the load when Kevin
Garnett missed 13 straight games from Feb. 20 through March 20, should Boston fans be worried that Pierce will be too fatigued to lead the Celtics in the playoffs?
Boston coach Doc Rivers says that Celtic Nation has nothing to fear.
"He's just human and he goes, like all of them, all of the good ones do, they go through a couple of games where their timing [is off] and sometimes shots just don't go in," Rivers said.
Rivers said that Pierce is Superman "on given days," but not on all of them.
With the Celtics are in a tight battle with Orlando for the second seed in the East, Rivers said he is not going to cut back on Pierce's minutes because the Celtics need to stay ahead of Orlando.
"Obviously we would like to keep his minutes down to that 35 to 38 minute barrier," Rivers said. "That would be nice."
Pierce is averaging 20.6 points in 38.8 minutes per game, but over the 13 games that Garnett missed, Pierce took it upon himself to do more for the team, resulting in his scoring output jumping to 23.6 points.
Garnett is back, but Rivers said that he is going to ease him back into the rotation, limiting him to 15 to 20 minutes a game until next week at the earliest.
Rivers said that Pierce is fine with playing 40 minutes a night and Garnett's health is more important than securing the second seed.
"We would like to have the second seed but like I said, for us health is far more important," Rivers said. "We're not going to get the first seed so we want to be healthy. That's the way we look at it so obviously we would like [the second seed] and we are going to play for it but we feel we can win anywhere. We really do."
Garnett's presence on the floor alone helps the Celtics out even if Garnett is not scoring.
"Teams still have to respect him even if he doesn't shoot the ball and he plays great defense," Ray Allen said.
Glen Davis has done a "terrific" job filling in for Garnett, Rivers said. Davis was averaging 14.6 points per game from Feb. 22 thru March 6 before going down with an ankle injury that sidelined him for four and a half games.
"Glen has been knocking down shots," Allen said. "He's been playing well."
The Celtics will need Davis to continue playing well, especially on Wednesday against Orlando.
The Celtics, who have a 2-1 series lead over the Magic, beat Orlando in Florida on Jan. 22, but Boston will be without Brian Scalabrine (concussion), Leon Powe (knee) and Tony Allen (thumb) when the two teams meet again on Wednesday.
They have not yet been cleared to play, but Rivers said that Allen is closer to returning than Scalabrine and Powe, who aren't even medically cleared to run.
"I don't think any of them are playing any time soon. None of them are cleared to play but I would say Tony is the closest," Rivers said. "[Scalabrine] just started bike work but no running yet on the floor. He to me, even over Leon, well Leon can't do anything right now, but Scal, that's a tough one because he can't run right now."
Point guard Rajon Rondo is playing with a sore ankle. He is now wearing ankle braces on both ankles to try to prevent further injury, and Ray Allen says that he has soreness in his shooting elbow and in his right ankle.
The wounded Celtics plan to be back at full strength by the time the playoffs start late next month, and until then, they will have to tough it out for wins.