After Paul Pierce hit a buzzer-beater that ended the game, demoralized the Miami Heat and — fairly certainly — cemented the series, there were a couple points of emphasis regarding what the Heat DIDN’T do.
First, they didn’t foul, despite having a foul to give. That one’s understandable, as an ill-advised foul at the wrong time would send Pierce to the line with a chance to end the game. As for the second point of emphasis – why didn’t the Miami Heat know exactly what Paul Pierce was going to do? Heat coach Erik Spoelstra claimed ignorance. (ESPNBoston)
“They have so many different late-game situations, if you go through their [game video] edits, there’s no pattern,” said Spoelstra. “They have so many proven 25-point-per-game scorers on their roster, they just usually go with the hot hand.
“We anticipated it would be a Pierce-[Kevin] Garnett pick-and-roll. Instead they [isolated] it and gave [Pierce] a shot there at the end. They are one of the most difficult teams to get a read on. We’ve spent a lot of time trying to do that.”
Really, Erik? You’ve watched Paul Pierce over and over and over on tape, and you didn’t know his go-to move was the step-back jumper to his right? You didn’t know that — when Pierce is hot — the Celtics are going to isolate him up top and let him go to that very same step-back jumper he loves so dearly?
With one minute left in the game — I shit you not, there was a full minute left — I told my friends, who were watching the game with me, that Pierce was going to end the game with a step-back jumper, off the dribble, going to his right. I acted out the exact same move Pierce proceeded to make a minute later, and ended the game with. My friends, not Celtics fans, wondered how I knew Pierce would shoot that exact shot, but it was easy: When Pierce has it going, that is his shot. His money ball, his Ole’ Faithful, his Mr. Reliable. But Spoelstra somehow thought Pierce and Garnett were going to run a pick-and-roll? C’mon, Spoelstra, you’re better than that.
So Dorell Wright backpedaled, expecting a KG screen to come for Paul Pierce, and then Pierce did what everyone in the world besides the Miami Heat expected him to do. Step-back, game over.
Step up your scouting, Heat. Pierce’s stepback is one tendency you absolutely should have known.