Paul Pierce has been in the league a long time. He’s stood at the top, with a ring on his finger and a Finals MVP in his hands, and claimed to be the best.
Now, he’s preparing to play the man generally considered the NBA’s — the world’s — finest basketball player. But if you think Paul Pierce is going to concede anything, you’d be dead wrong. (MetroWest Daily News)
“I am going to have to go down and defend one of the best players in the NBA,” he said following yesterday’s two-hour workout, “and at the same time be a leader for our team on offense. Whether it needs scoring or defending, if that’s what it takes, then I’m going to have to do it all.”
Pierce said he’s just going to have to “man up to the challenge” of defending Lebron. But Kevin Garnett reminds us, Pierce is no slouch either.
“P’s no piece of cheesecake either,” Kevin Garnett said. “He’s going to have to be aggressive himself on offense. He’s going to have to make LeBron work.”
Pierce has to make Lebron work, and Lebron will most definitely make Pierce work. How does Pierce plan to defend the most dominant basketball player alive?
“The key is to slow him down,” Pierce said. “You know he’s going to be pretty much like Dwyane Wade. He’s going to get the ball 90 percent of the time in the offense. He’s going to get a majority of the calls.
“The key is to slow him down to where he’s not going off for 40, 50 points a night. You want to limit his easy opportunities. You want to limit his dunks and layups, and force him to try to beat you from the perimeter.”
It will take a toll, but Pierce feels after a season on the mend he’s healthy enough to withstand it.
“It’s not like we’re wrestling out there,” he said of giving up 30 pounds in the matchup. “We’re playing basketball.”
Pierce and the Celtics have survived a Lebron onslaught of points before, but the general consensus is now that Pierce has lost a step while Lebron has developed into the league’s undisputed heavyweight champion.
Just keep in mind that, though Pierce may have lost a half-step or so, he is still no piece of cheesecake.
And he relishes a challenge.