Paul Pierce Thinks The Wizards Can Make The Finals

The Eastern Conference has been nicknamed the LEastern Conference based off the lopsided talent in favor of the West. But with LeBron James staying in the East with a new super team in Cleveland Derrick Rose back (hopefully to stay), up-and-coming teams in Toronto, Washington and Charlotte, the Phil Jackson experiment in New York, and a Heat team that’s better than many think, it’s not exactly a cakewalk to come out of the East this spring. Washington’s newest small forward, Paul Pierce, thinks his new Wiz mates have as good a chance as anyone.

In an interview with’s David Aldridge, Pierce explained why he choose to leave New Jersey Brooklyn and head to the Nation’s Capital, despite reports Clippers coach/president Doc Rivers wanted him in a Clippers uniform. He also made a somewhat bold pronouncement about his Wizards towards the end (emphasis ours).

David Aldridge: Was Washington your first choice? I heard all summer you wanted to go home to L.A., to the Clippers.

Paul Pierce: Obviously, this is my first time in free agency. I really didn’t know where I was going to end up. Truthfully, I thought I was going to end up back in Brooklyn, with Kevin [Garnett]. I told Kevin, if you’re not going to retire, then I probably will come back. But when Brooklyn didn’t give me an offer, it was like, I talked to him, and I kind of started looking at my options then. I thought I probably would end up with the Clippers with Doc [Rivers], but they wound up signing Spencer Hawes [and using the full mid-level exception] at the time. That’s when Sam Cassell gave me a call, shortly after Trevor Ariza signed with Houston. That kind of happened so fast. He signed, and Sam called me, and [asked] what I thought. We both were in Vegas at the time, talking on the phone. Then met him for lunch. Then met him again for dinner. It took some convincing, because I never really thought about Washington. It just wasn’t on my radar. But I started thinking about it, and everything he was telling me, based on what they did last year, the guys they have here, he talked about the culture, he talked about Coach [Randy Wittman], Ernie [Grunfeld, the GM], talked to him. And I started warming up to the idea. Pretty much that same day we talked, I started warming up. This team does have some potential, now that I think about it. They probably should have beat Indiana. Everybody thought they should have beat Indiana. I was like, they have one of the best backcourts in basketball. They’re lacking experience, a guy in the locker room and on the court that can help end games. I was like, I probably can fit in. After LeBron said he was going back to Cleveland, the dynamics of the Eastern Conference, with Indiana, I was like, this is a team that could be in the Eastern Conference finals, or possibly the Finals, based on what’s here. And adding me to some of the other veterans they added, I was like, why not?

Interesting Pierce mentions LeBron’s return to Cleveland where he’s joining a fellow all-stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in what’s somewhat like a Big Three update. That did shake up the conference, but we think it just dramatically tipped the scales towards the Cavs (barring injury or mass confusion) — and Vegas agrees, since they’ve got the best odds to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy.

BUT…it’s obvious Pierce is aching for a chance to get more shot at cutting LeBron’s heart out in the playoffs and this Wizards team could be the one that does it. We also think Pierce’s motivation was apparent last night during preseason play. He wanted to give the Bulls, one of Washington’s biggest competitors in the East besides Cleveland and Miami, a message, and his hit on Jimmy Butler, ensuing yapping at the Bulls and Joakim Noah forehead poke, certainly did that.

All the soon-to-be 37-year-old (Oct. 13) wants to do is go out on top, and perhaps remind a couple of stars — LeBron, D-Rose, Noah — he’s the former Eastern Conference kingpin.

Pierce is right that the Wizards should have knocked off Indiana in the Conference Seminfinals last spring. Indiana was off balance after barely eking by Atlanta in seven games, and if Washington had a little more experience, and the ability to put teams away at the right moment in the fourth quarter, they might have moved on and given Miami a better run in the Conference Finals than Indiana did.

It’s WAYYYY too early to guess, but we’d love to see Pierce, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Nene and Marcin Gortat take on LeBron and the new coterie of talent in Ohio this May. Pierce made a choice in free agency this summer, and from what we can see so far, it was the right one.

Will the Wizards even make the Eastern Conference Finals?

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