Paul Pierce was showing his age.
Through forty-five minutes of play, the former All-Star, Future Hall of Famer, and present-day dinosaur was struggling, having scored only 6 points on 2 for 8 shooting. Meanwhile, the young, inexperienced but very hungry to prove themselves Toronto Raptors were giving the Brooklyn Nets all they could handle, twice tying the game in the fourth quarter.
It seemed as if the Raptors vs. Dinosaurs angle that the Toronto Sun had come up with was proving to be prophetic.
Fortunately for the Nets, Pierce channeled his inner T-Rex, scoring 9 points on 4-for-5 shooting when it mattered most as a veteran Brooklyn squad defeated the young Raptors, 94-87, to take a 1-0 series lead in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Chalk it up to their enthusiasm, and relative lack of playoff savvy – after all, the city hasn’t experienced post season play since 2008, and has only enjoyed a grand total of one playoff series victory in the franchise’s 19 years of NBA existence – but if Toronto wants to avoid repeating history and actually win this series, it can’t afford to buy into the “Paul Pierce is too old to respect” theme the local media is playing up.
Maybe the folks up in the Great White North are under the impression that the Boston Celtics traded Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn during the offseason because these two aging superstars were no longer viewed as being capable of playing at a high level any more. While that may be true when it comes to KG, nothing could be farther from the truth when it comes to The Truth. Truth be told, Pierce and KG were dealt because the Celtics knew they were not good enough to make a significant run in the playoffs even with these two veterans, and because the Nets realized that they COULD make a significant run because of the addition of two such battle-tested warriors. Even a die-hard Celtics fan such as myself understands that such a deal was mutually-beneficial to these two franchises, provided that you understand that each time got what it was looking for – in the case of the Nets, a proven clutch performer who could be counted upon to provide daggers during crunch time, after allowing his teammates to carry the load for most of the game.
Maybe that’s where Toronto made its mistake: they assumed that the Nets had made the mistake of assuming that they were bringing in the Paul Pierce who helped the Celtics win their 17th NBA Championship back in 2008. Perhaps the Raptors were hoping that Brooklyn was expecting the Truth to put the Nets on his back and try and assume the role of primary scorer. Or maybe the Raptors simply weren’t buying into the “Future Hall of Famer” hype. Either way, Toronto should be reminded of what the Nets were already fully aware of when they pulled the trigger on the trade that brought Pierce to Brooklyn:
I’ve been in those situations a number, number of times. I don’t get rattled in the fourth quarter down the stretch of playoff settings. I’ve been in pretty much every playoff situation that you can imagine. I just try to stay calm and bring my calmness to the game.
Paul Pierce may be a dinosaur, but if the Raptors don’t respect him, and soon, Toronto is the team that is going to be extinct pretty quickly, not the Nets.
Richard Spalding is the editor of the FanSided Boston Celtics site, Hardwood Houdini. Since his Celtics are not in the playoffs – sniff! – he will be providing extra playoff coverage around the FanSided network, so hit him up @HoudiniCeltics if you have any suggestions or comments to share with him!
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