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.
It was a welcome sight for Boston Celtics fans, who are cheering for Pierce and Kevin Garnett even if we’re not officially ready to designate the Nets as our surrogate team to cheer for in these playoffs. I haven’t come across many Celtics fans who are outright bitter about Pierce and Garnett being traded – disappointed, nostalgic, wistful: yes, but Celtics fans understand the NBA is a business – but there are very few (any?) fans of the green and white who didn’t want to see The Truth spend his entire NBA career as a member of the Cs. Pierce had given too much suffered too much, and done too much for the franchise to be shipped out before he had truly become a fossil, so we cheer for him now because we appreciate what he has done for Titletown – and because we understand he still possesses the ability to create some playoff magic.
Pierce seems fully aware of his talents, as well, as he screamed “That’s why they brought me here! That’s why they brought me here!” after his fade-away J put the Nets up 88-81 and forced the exasperated Raptors to call a timeout. No one in Brooklyn was delusional enough to think that they were bringing in the same Paul Pierce who helped lead the Celtics to their 17th championship back in 2008; nor was Danny Ainge delusional enough to think that Pierce was too washed-up to be able to contribute to a championship contender. The Celtics were not good enough to make the playoffs, and Pierce is no longer good enough to carry a team by himself. Still, as the Raptors found out yesterday, The Truth isn’t extinct just yet.
And if the Raptors don’t plan on going extinct in these playoffs any time soon, they’re going to have use more than insults to keep this dinosaur from eating them alive.