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Ron Artest's Defense Has Slowed Paul Pierce's Scoring, but Not His Mouth

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IJune 8, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics looks to pass over Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 6, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

You can always count on Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce for a sound bite, and his loud proclamation that his team would not be returning to Los Angeles after the Celtics' victory in Game Two of the NBA Finals is an example.

One could assume Pierce means the Celtics will sweep the three-game home stand which begins tonight in Boston, but judging from his impact in the series' first two games, you have to wonder if his statement was ill-advised.

Pierce's voice as a weapon has a history which dates back to the near-fatal stabbing he suffered at a night club earlier in his career, and the passing of time has seen him grow bolder in his edicts.

Well, since 2008 anyway, because before then there was little for Pierce to talk about considering the mostly poor teams he played for, but once he was paired with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the current version of Pierce surfaced.

Everyone is familiar with the disrespectful comments Pierce directed towards Kobe Bryant and the Lakers after the Celtics defeated Los Angeles in the 2008 Finals, and the comments he made about the illegitimacy of the Lakers' title of 2009.

He famously told the world Boston was going home to close out the Orlando Magic after the Celtics captured the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals on the Magic's home court, and now he has blessed us with his latest tactful remark.

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Pierce is never at a loss of words, but so far he has chosen to stray away from the subject of Ron Artest and how the Lakers' defensive ace has mostly muted the Celtics' most versatile offensive player.

Pierce did score 24 points in Game One, but he was held to 13 attempts from the floor, and the bulk of his points came when the game had already been decided and from the free throw line.

In Game Two, Pierce was held to 10 points on 2-11 shooting from the field, but he did manage to snare four rebounds and dish out four assists in the Celtics' victory.

The battle of wills between Pierce and Artest is just one of the many interesting sub-plots in the NBA's most fierce rivalry, and whoever emerges victorious could see a mirror fate with their team.

Pierce is the type of player the Lakers signed Artest to defend, and his strength and size, which are two of his biggest attributes, are of no consequence to Artest, who may be bigger and stronger.

Artest is definitely meaner, and he has a lunatic streak which would make it a poor decision for Pierce to speak out against Artest in particular because he would likely seek reprisals on the court.

Pierce is the Celtics' best player when it comes to creating his own offense. He usually is adept at using his size to overpower opponents while backing them down, and then turning for a mid-range jump shot.

But Artest has been up to this challenge, and his own quick hands have made Pierce's already shaky ball-handling a perilous adventure in the face of Artest's suffocating brand of man-to-man defense.

The Celtics have the benefit of playing in front of their home crowd, and many of the shots Pierce missed from the perimeter in Los Angeles will likely find their mark within the confines of a friendly environment.

But the Lakers have won in Boston before and Artest is not likely to be perturbed by the angry chants of "Beat L.A." he will most likely hear, but the onus will clearly be on him to prevent Pierce from having a huge game.

So far the matchup between Artest and Pierce has been a virtual stalemate, but tonight will provide more clarity on whether or not this latest statement from Pierce can really be taken at face value.

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