This post isn’t going to be anything earth-shattering.
It’s going to be far from Pulitzer worthy, and won’t at all cause a light bulb to go off in your head. I am going to tell you things that you already know, and things that are blatantly obvious.
I will not claim to be giving you any expert opinion, but the opinion of somebody who watches basketball and can see a problem when it smacks me blatantly in the face. I’m not going to impress you with any deep basketball knowledge you never thought of before, and I’m not going to wow you with intelligent critique.
Nope, I’m just going to point out the obvious: Boston needs more out of Paul Pierce than it got in Game One.
If Pierce shoots 5-17 while accumulating only 13 points, while allowing 35, 7 and 7 to Lebron, the Celtics can’t win. They can’t. The world expects Pierce to get outplayed, and he probably will be every game. But he can’t be destroyed so thoroughly.
He can’t look like some regular old schmo — he’s Paul F*cking Pierce, for God’s sake. He’s The Mother-F*cking Truth. He’s not some bum like Anthony Parker or Jamario Moon. He’s an eight-time All-Star. A Finals MVP. The self-proclaimed best player in the world. The self-proclaimed best shooter in the world too. The C’s most gifted scorer.
And, for Boston to have a chance, he’s got to play like it. Yesterday, after getting off to a most Truthful start, Pierce missed 11 of his final 12 shots. As Lebron got hot in the fourth and Cleveland seized into the lead and pulled away, Pierce was completely silent. He was nowhere to be found. He was just an average player. He fell far short of being the crunch-time assassin Boston needs him to be.
And, shit, he got dunked on by Mo Williams. NOBODY gets dunked on by Mo Williams. I mean, literally, nobody. His posterization of Pierce was his first as a Cleveland Cav and second as a pro. As I said, literally nobody gets dunked on by Mo Williams. Until Pierce, last night.
Still, the Celtics were close to victory. A few more stops, another couple buckets, and they would have a 1-0 lead and homecourt advantage for the series. If Pierce hadn’t disappeared in quarter four… if Mo Williams hadn’t briefly thought he was Isiah Thomas… if Rasheed Wallace was never born… if Kevin Garnett hit some shots down the stretch… then Boston would be cheering a series lead.
But none of those things happened, Boston’s down 1-zip, and the biggest factor of all was the disappearing act of Paul Pierce. He’s the one Celtic who can consistently be counted on to score, and he was non-existent last night as the game drew to a close and Cleveland escaped with a victory. Pierce can’t be expected to dominate Lebron, or even to get the best of him, but he should be able to make him work on both ends. 5-17 ain’t gonna cut it, and neither is Lebron’s 35, 7, 7.
The Celtics need more out of Pierce, and they need it quickly. Competing with the two-time MVP is almost impossible, but Pierce has to show he’s ready to handle the task.
Otherwise, beating Cleveland will be largely impossible.