When a player is feeling good about his game, he tends to do a lot of talking. Paul Pierce must be feeling good about his game lately because he’s making a lot of noise.
After the Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic, 95-92, in Game 2 to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals, Pierce spoke with ESPN’s Doris Burke and confidently boasted that the Celtics will close out the series in Boston. “Our fans aren’t going to let us relax. Ya’ll aren’t gonna let us relax,” Pierce told Burke. Then, Pierce looked into the camera and said, “We’re gonna try to close this out in two games, ya’ll hear me. We’re comin’ home and close it out.”
Shortly after the ESPN postgame interview, Pierce allegedly posted a message on his Twitter account (paulpierce34) that read, “Anybody got a BROOM?” Pierce denied sending the tweet, claiming his Twitter account was hacked.
Sure. Likely story, Paul.
It’s the old my-dog-ate-my-homework excuse, or like punching your buddy on the arm while he’s not looking and when he turns around you point at someone else and pretend it wasn’t you.
Whether Pierce, the longest tenured Celtic player and the team’s captain, is being honest about Twitter-gate, the message was loud and clear: Paul Pierce has his swagger back.
Pierce seems to have regained his shooting stroke after it briefly left him in the conference semifinals. In two games against the Magic, Pierce is averaging 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists. In six games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Pierce was limited to 13 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Pierce said wrestling with LeBron James for six games sapped his energy in the previous series and his offense suffered because of it.
“I have the opportunity to be more aggressive in this series than I did in the last series since I had such a huge defensive responsibility. Not taking anything away from Vince [Carter], Vince is a great challenge and he’s known to have big games, but you’re talking about playing the best player in the league. It’s tough, physically and mentally,” Pierce said of guarding James, the NBA’s two-time MVP.
“In this series, I have a little more free reign to be more offensive.”
Though Pierce won’t say it publicly, but privately he’s gotta be loving his matchup with Carter, who is not known for his defense. Pierce has been allowed to get to his sweet spots without much of a fight. He has been to the free-throw line 21 times in two games in the conference finals, compared to only 19 free-throw attempts for the entire conference semifinals.
When Pierce is getting to the free-throw line, he’s being aggressive. And when he’s aggressive, the Celtics are nearly unbeatable because he puts a lot of pressure on the defense and takes pressure off Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.
Pierce was simply telling the truth when he said the Celtics are going to close this thing out in Boston. Nothing wrong with feeling confident at this point, especially with the way the Celtics are playing defense and the way Pierce is wearing out Carter. Expect another hacker to send a tweet on Pierce’s behalf and post this message: “Beat L.A.”