Even though the Celtics’ game seven dismemberment ranks right up there in the pantheon of the most lopsided end-of-series blowouts, Boston still hasn’t explicitly answered the most important question for their success moving into round two: Who is going to step up and take a game into his own hands?
In all fairness, Boston couldn’t answer this question yesterday because they had a Big Brown lead on the Hawks down the home stretch. In fact, they’ve toasted Atlanta by an average of 25.2 points in each of their four wins. But the three losses were all close games – separated by nine, five, and three points respectively. As per the sweet SportsCenter Sunday Conversation with the Big Three about a week ago, both KG and Pierce thought that in those close games, it should be Ray Allen to take the last shot. (Didn’t work out all that well at the end of game six.) But Michele Tafoya didn’t ask who should take the game over with their lives on the line.
While Boston didn’t give the answer to that question, they did give us a substantial clue. After only taking 10, 10, 13, 14, 17, and 12 shots in the first six games, Paul Pierce pulled 20 times from the field yesterday, and looked like Boston’s fail-safe. He tallied 9 points and 4 boards in the first quarter, going bucket for bucket with Atlanta’s commander-in-chief, Joe Johnson. Boston had an 11-point edge by the time that quarter was over. Pierce wasn’t willing to wait until the game got close – it was almost as if he looked at the game’s first twelve minutes as the do-or-die stretch of the series.
“I was telling everybody I was so happy that the game was at 1 o’clock,” said Pierce. “Because there was no way I could have sat at home all day today because of my anxiousness to get back on the court after Game 6 from the way I had been feeling the past couple days.”
The Truth led all scorers with 22 points yesterday, and seems to have realized his role as the guy that Boston looks to when the game is on the line – whether that is with the score tied 0-0 or 95-95.
“I really had no doubt in my mind how we was going to come out tonight,” said Pierce. “You kind of saw it from the guys after Game 6 on the plane. There wasn’t a lot of talking and we knew that we let a couple games get away in Atlanta and I just knew we was going to take care of business tonight.”