Your Pain Brings Us So Much Joy
4.24 The Cooler

The Paul Pierce Rules

By 04.24.10

Paul Pierce, Dime #5

Two or three minutes into Heat/Celtics, you would’ve bet the college fund that Dwyane Wade was going to crank out a Jordan-esque performance. But by the time it was over, Paul Pierce was the one channeling The G.O.A.T. and turning Dorell Wright into the tatted version of Bryon Russell … The game’s ebb and flow was determined by the superstars. Wade came out like he was gonna hit a double-nickel easy: pretty turnarounds, follow dunks over the backs of 7-footers, carving into the lane for and-ones, and it looked like Miami was on their way to a solid win. Wade made his first five shots, but then he went 1-for-7 the rest of the first half, which allowed Boston to catch up. Miami led by one at halftime. In the third quarter, Pierce (32 pts) and Ray Allen (25 pts) started raining jumpers, and Boston was up eight going into the fourth. Superstar-in-training Michael Beasley actually sparked the next run; He had been doing nothing special until Jeff Van Gundy screamed at him with a coach’s frustration, “It’s time for him to deliver. This is what you do. DO IT!” As if Beasley had heard JVG, he immediately went on a tear where he couldn’t be stopped and his J was automatic … With one minute to go, it was tied when Mark Jackson said, “Here’s where coaching comes in: Get the ball to Wade and get out of the way.” But after the teams traded bricks, Wade’s left leg cramped up on Miami’s last possession and he had to sit out … So it’s Boston ball, still tied, and Pierce has it at the top of the key. If you’ve seen the Celtics play at all over the last decade or so, you know where Pierce wants to go and what he wants to do. One or two dribbles, then a pull-up jumper on the right elbow. Dorell Wright should have known this, but he didn’t just give Pierce the right side, he actually forced him right like it was the smart thing to do. Pull-up, buzzer, bucket, over. The Heat would have been better off letting Jerod Haase guard Pierce; at least he would’ve known what was coming … The bad part for Wright (15 pts) is that he ruined what had been a great game for him. Miami has been dying for somebody other than Wade (34 pts, 8 asts) to step up, and in addition to Beasley in Game 3, Wright hit some big shots and clutch free throws. Now all anyone will remember is his defensive lapse … How many possessions does Rajon Rondo save per game by tip-toeing the sideline like Cris Carter, or saving a loose ball and making the right pass? He’s like the PG version of Marcus Camby in that he wins his team multiple crucial possessions every night … Pound-for-pound, though, Spurs/Mavs was the best game of the playoffs so far. Dudes were killing each other in a battle that had a conference finals Game 7 atmosphere. During one stretch Dallas went on a 19-2 run, which San Antonio promptly answered with a 13-2 run; it was that kind of game …

The Big Three won it for San Antonio. Tim Duncan (25 pts) was the star of the first half, then Manu Ginobili (15 pts, 7 asts) took over a key stretch early in the fourth quarter, before Tony Parker (23 pts) owned the last couple of minutes. After Dirk Nowitzki gave Dallas the lead with three minutes left, Parker came back with a jumper from the right elbow, a jumper from the left corner, a pull-up J over J.J. Barea, and then TP got a layup plus-one with 18 seconds left that iced it … Barea deserves a nod, though. He was so good on both ends of the floor that Caron Butler never left the bench after halftime. But Dirk (35 pts) was a beast from start to finish, handing out jumpers like usual but also driving and creating buckets in the paint … Around the time one of Dirk’s drives resulted in Manu breaking his nose, Hubie Brown compared Dirk to Ichabod Crane. “It’s not smooth. He comes in with elbows going, knees up,” Hubie laughed. If you have no idea who Ichabod Crane is, don’t feel bad. He’s a character from a story that was written in 1820, a.k.a. the year Hubie coached his first basketball game … The Jazz didn’t get the memo that Friday’s games were all supposed to be good, and they apparently didn’t get the other memo that they’re supposed to be struggling without two starters in the lineup and while using an undrafted rookie to start in the backcourt … Utah’s front line dominated Denver. Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap outscored Nene and Kenyon Martin 40-10, while Millsap outrebounded them by himself, 19-18. The Jazz were working on a 20-piecing early in the fourth quarter, although the Nuggets came back to at least make it respectable … Have you seen what the Pittsburgh Steelers are doing at the NFL Draft? On Thurday they brought out a sick kid from the Make-a-Wish Foundation to announce their first-round pick, then yesterday they got newly-crowned Hall of Famer Rod Woodson to announce the second-round pick. This wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Pittsburgh’s star quarterback has been running around like Pepe Le Pew and the franchise needs some positive publicity, would it? … We’re out like Ichabod Crane …


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