The Celtics got sucker-punched by LeBron and his elbow in Game Three. He struck early and often leaving the Celtics staggering before the first quarter even finished.
A usually efficient Rajon Rondo was forced to carry most of the offensive load as Paul Pierce withered under LeBron's glare. Pierce looked like this was his first go-round with his royal 'elbow-ness,' LeBron James.
It looks like James has gotten into Paul's head, and it's not a good thing for the Celtics. He looks like a player who is sulking because he feels the changing of the guard while defending James and the uncertainty of Rondo's emergence.
Pierce simply does not know where he fits in the Celtics present with the future, Rajon Rondo and LeBron James clearly outplaying him.
His ego is clearly taking a beating as he bristles under media scrutiny about his poor play and Rondo possibly being the best player on the team.
It is a challenge for this Celtic foundation player to take the next step that is necessary to build on his legacy while letting Rondo be Rondo.
The Captain has been placed in the bulls-eye with LeBron breathing down his neck, because Pierce has what he wants: a championship.
If the Celtics are to advance, Pierce must answer LeBron's loud bark with a solid bite of his own. Game Four calls for him to return James' volley with maximum effort. His Finals MVP basketball IQ is being called out by the league's regular season MVP.
Boston is its own worst enemy and Pierce has to shoulder the majority of the blame. He has morphed into a player who longs for the days when he was the only offensive option.
Pierce's passivity has taken the pressure off of the Cleveland Cavaliers and changed the dynamics of the teams' play.
He is still a major part of what the team needs to do to win Game Four. If he finds a way to contribute offensively the Celtics may have a chance.
If he doesn't, the entire "wait 'til the playoffs" concession speeches they gave after every inexplicable regular season loss will be magnified in the postseason.