After reading the headline of this article, former Celtics head coach Rick Pitino might react by screaming out something like, “All the negativity in this town sucks!”
After all, the Celtics just won two straight games on the road in the Eastern Conference Finals and are now just two wins away from making the NBA Finals as the series now shifts back home to Boston…Yet I find something to criticize.
The Celtics starters look exceptional. Tony Allen and Glen Davis are playing wonderfully off the bench. KG is looking strong and healthy. Rajon Rondo is playing like a Hall of Famer. Ray Allen was quiet tonight, but he has been red hot throughout almost the entire postseason. Paul Pierce is taking care of business in a major way, and the Celtics have now won five straight playoff games.
So how could I find anything negative to write about following this great Celtics victory? And of all players, how could I find fault in Paul Pierce considering the way he played tonight?
Pierce responded to the vicious flagrant foul delivered early on by Dwight Howard by playing a monster game. By the way, Howard looked more like Lex Luther than Superman on that play which only served to elevate Pierce's game.
“The Truth” scored 28 points on 8 of 16 from the field, hitting 9 of 11 free throws (two of which came with under a minute to go in the fourth to put the Celtics up by three).
But after the game, in his interview with ESPN reporter, Doris Burke, Pierce made a big mistake that will hopefully not prove costly:
Pierce gave Orlando even more motivation going into Game 3.
Initially, Pierce said that Orlando is a talented team and that the Celtics weren't going to take anything for granted which is the perfect answer.
But, when Burke asked Pierce about how the tendency might be to relax a bit now up two games to none heading back home, Pierce had this to say, “Our fans aren’t going to let us relax,” Then he turned and looked directly into the camera, and pumped up the volume, “We’re coming home to close this out in two games! Y’all hear me? We’re coming home to close it out!”
Plus as Pierce walked through the tunnel, he looked up at the Orlando fans, grinned, and yelled out, “See you next year!” I love the swagger and the confidence he has and many great players in NBA history have been quite fond of talking trash because they know they can back it up.
But, Orlando is a very good team that went to the NBA Finals last year, and they came awfully close to pulling off a come from behind win tonight. Now they’re in the hole two games, so why give them more fuel and ammunition?
One thing that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has always done is avoid provoking the opponent and providing them with further incentive to win. Professional athletes are extremely competitive and motivated individuals by nature. Nothing can be gained by giving the opponent additional motivation. There’s no advantage to producing bulletin board material for the other team.
Belichick always praises the opposing players and coaches saying only positive, complimentary things about them in the press. This is a great strategy and it would be to the Celtics’ benefit if they put it to use as well.
Apart from that, as a Celtics fan, it’s hard not to be thrilled with Paul Pierce and this entire team right now. At the half, Magic Johnson said this about Pierce’s toughness, “He’s from Inglewood , you know? They play physical out there.”
What can I say? In the words of Dr. Dre, “ Inglewood … Inglewood always up to no good.”
For the record, if any Celtics fans want to ridicule me for being too critical, please note that I predicted the Celtics to beat Cleveland prior to that series starting, and also predicted that the C's would beat Orlando prior to this series starting.