Paul Pierce Needs to Show Fans Again Why He’s Here
“That’s why they got me here” is the quote fans saw mouthed via replay after Paul Pierce made one of his clutch shots in the series opener. Well, it’s almost time for Game 7 and fans would love more of that bravado, provided he backs it up with similar results. The pressure appears to be on the Nets due to the high profile offseason moves, which upped their 2013-14 payroll over the $100 million dollar mark. The team is built for this season, and despite the depth in talent on the roster, Paul Pierce is the man with the winning resume and ring who will be looked upon to step up Sunday afternoon in hostile territory.
Pierce has been solid thus far in the postseason and averages 14.0 PPG in 30.8 MPG. He’s shot .475 from the field, including those aforementioned shots down the stretch in Game 1. The consistency has been lacking, however, not just from Pierce, but from the entire Nets roster. All six games have been hard-fought and strewed with runs from both teams, causing both coaches to navigate on the fly with different lineups. Pierce, after being pulled in the second half of Game 5, came back with a productive Game 6 by having a typical game filling up all columns of the stat sheet in 34 minutes of playing time.
As for Game 7, the Nets might need more of a scoring contribution from Pierce. For most of the series, Pierce has been matched up with Amir Johnson or Patrick Patterson, bigger and slower defenders that he usually has the advantage on the dribble, depending on how the Raptors play him. Toronto’s defense has been primarily focused on stopping Williams’ penetration and doubling Johnson in the post, which has left shooters open from behind the arc. Pierce, from 3-point range, is shooting 31 percent (9 for 29) for the series, mirroring a similar, unfavorable trend by a team who thrived in long range shooting in the regular season.
It will be interesting to see what strategy Jason Kidd installs for Game 7. A long series usually enables teams to figure each other out allowing little surprises as far as game plans are concerned. That is exactly why Pierce’s experience and poise will be needed come tip-off; he’s the “grizzled” veteran who, at this point in his career, is numb to any external pressure. He’s played in many of these games, including seven with his fellow ex-Celtic teammate Kevin Garnett. There will be plenty of blame to go around if the Nets lose, particularly Deron Williams, who has been a polarizing figure since coming to the team in 2011. A bad game from Pierce will not go unnoticed though.
Nets fans have seen it mouthed on National TV in Game 1. Well, let’s see if “The Truth” will let his actions back up his words, as well as his moniker.
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