I was more nervous for Rajon Rondo, but more specifically Paul Pierce than I get for many Celtics games. As fans we needed the Celtics to win something. Knowing how much this competition meant to The Truth, and how he planned on practicing for it, and just how badly he wanted to be put back into this contest, makes it that much greater and exciting that he came out on top.
After his first couple of racks in the first round, Pierce wasn’t looking so hot. At that point I was just hoping he could find a way to turn it on and really heat up on the last few racks. At this point the announcers were saying that Paul Pierce was a scorer not a shooter. They said there is no way he would win this because he was not a spot up shooter. Blah blah blah. All I could hope for was that he would shut them up.
He started heating up on the last 3 racks. He used the straight on threes to get himself going for the last 2 racks. More important than anything, was how Pierce was paying extra attention on making sure he made the money ball. He got though the round with 17 points to which I quickly said, “Thats enough. That will get him through.” Then Billups came out and rattled in 17 points, and Stephen Curry put in 18, and I thought, “Crap.”
However, that was a very optimistic “Crap” because the next 3 had issues of their own. Cook has not gotten much playing time this year with his 3 point % dropping so low, Channing Frye was new to the competition and just seemed like a guy that would buckle, then there was Gallinari from the Knicks who is a decent three point shooter, but definitely not known for his lights out shooting from deep. So all three of these guys didn’t have what it took and Pierce slipped his way into the Final round.
Pierce started the round by setting the bar high. He was the first shooter of the round and posted 20 after putting in all of the money balls. Billups came out and stunk it up, and Curry couldn’t get into a steady rhythm, which I would assume because he was too tired. He’s too small to last out there for 50 3-point shots.
Like I said, this meant more to Pierce than it did anyone else on the floor. He was focused, and when he was getting ready to go he had his game face on. He was wishing the ball in and following it all the way into the basket, pumped after it went in. He had much to prove, and he takes that very seriously.
Most of all, though, it was just good to see a smile on the face of Pierce and Garnett. After 2 months of absolute frustration from the fans, the media, the players, the coaches, and the organization with questions regarding trades and what not, it was good to see The Truth having fun playing basketball again. He enjoyed himself, and I know sure as anything he has not enjoyed the past couple of months.
To Pierce I say: Hold onto that trophy loosely because there will be a substitute for it come June. Remember what it feels like to have fun playing basketball, and carry that over into when the regular season starts back up again. Enough being so negative about it, “knowing” the team is going to find a way to lose. Tonight you knew you were going to win, and that made the next basket go in despite the 2 misses before it. Stay cocky, or arrogant, or whatever it takes to push this team to victory. We can accept being the most hated team in the league.
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