(Paul Pierce, the Hemingway Celtic and “the Truth” — continued)
(Pierce’s GOATest moments 10-6 in part 1, here)
5. The Truth
March 13, 2001. Paul Pierce scored 42 points in a losing effort to the Lakers. His performance was so awesome, however, it inspired this eShaqulation from opposing all-star Shqauille O’Neal:
“Take this down,” Shaq told a reporter. “My name is Shaquille O’Neal, and Paul Pierce is the mother-f***ing truth. Quote me on that, and don’t take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn’t know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth.”
4. Turning up the Heat
Anyone who doubts Shaq can simply ask LeBron James —
who learned that the hard truth the hard way in Game 5 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.
With less than a minute to play and the shot clock winding down, Pierce drove the dagger into Miami’s back with a three right over LeBron to put Boston up by four points.
James made an excellent contest, but even in the heat generated by the Miami home crowd, Pierce demonstrated a Hemingwayesque “grace under pressure.”
3. 2002 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 3
After gaining an unexpected split in New Jersey, The Celtics met the Nets for Game 3 in the Garden. Though Pierce and the Celtics would lose the series in six games, The Truth provided Boston with its biggest victory of the series…. and one of the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history.
Pierce shot a relatively cool 8-of-21 from the floor, and was 0-of-5 from three-point range. In the fourth quarter, however, Pierce erupted for 19 fourth points as the Celtics erase a 21-point deficit to take a 2-1 series lead.
(That game was all a lot of Celtics fans had by way of great playoff memories from about 1987 to 2008.)
2. Game 7 vs. LeBron, 2008: A loose ball for the ages
Little things matter. Hustle still matters.
The Celtics 2008 championship run can perilously close to being stillborn in the Eastern Semis, as the Cleveland Cavaliers played Boston to a basic standstill for 6 games and 46 minutes of game 7.
(In fact, Cleveland outscored the Celtics for the series.)
1. Pierce as Willis Reed.
Pierce earned Finals MVP honors in 2008 with averages of 21.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds on 39 percent shooting from three-point range.
But the perhaps the pivotal moment in the series came in Game One. Pierce was carried off the court and was seen being wheeled through the halls in a wheelchair.
Much to the frustration and suspicion of many Lakers fans and some sportswriters, Pierce returned to the court minutes later.
Pierce’s return gave the Truth and the Celtics of 2008 an air of destiny. He had his Willis Reed moment — and Boston had banner # 17.
— Celtics 24/7 (@celts247) July 19, 2017