Posts tagged with Paul Pierce
No one can question Paul Pierce’s loyalty.
The 10-time NBA all-star hasn’t played for Kansas University since 1998, but when the longtime Celtic, one-year Net and current Wizard filled out his 2015 NCAA Tournament bracket, it was clear he still considers himself a Jayhawk.
Pierce posted his bracket on Instagram Wednesday morning.
The former KU star has the Jayhawks beating New Mexico State, Wichita State, Notre Dame, Kentucky (the same undefeated Wildcats team that smoked Kansas, 72-40, in November), Arizona and Virginia for the national championship.
A first-team All-American in 1997-98, Pierce gave the rest of the Big 12 some love, too. He put Iowa State in his Final Four, and has West Virginia in the Sweet 16.
He might not end up with a perfect bracket. But it’s not like he needs to win his bracket pool.
When Pierce played for Kansas under Roy Williams, his teams lost in the Elite Eight to Syracuse (1996), in the Sweet 16 to Arizona (1997) and to Rhode Island in the second round (1998).
Pierce likes his former Kansas coach making noise, as well. He has UNC reaching the Elite Eight before bowing out to Arizona.
Boston loves Paul Pierce. And for the former Celtic, the feeling is mutual.
Even though Pierce agreed to be traded to Brooklyn in the summer of 2013, and has since moved on to play for Washington, he spent 15 years in Celtics green. Beantown and its beloved basketball team mean so much to him, in early December Pierce made a video about his most recent return before facing Boston as a member of the Wizards in TD Garden.
So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise Pierce told the Boston Herald he could return to the organization once he calls it quits (the 37-year-old has a player-option on his contract at the end of this season, and could opt out to earn more money in 2015-16).
According to the former Kansas standout, sometime in the coming offseason, he plans to visit Boston and will seek out Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck to talk about opportunities that might be available for him when he retires.
The Herald’s Steve Bulpett reported though the 2008 NBA Finals MVP long had thought about front-office positions for his post-playing days, Pierce might even be interested in a spot on the bench.
“I’m not sure, man. I like to keep my options open,” Pierce said. “Coaching could be in my future. I think I still have a lot left to give this game. I always find myself talking to the guys. When we’re going through scouting, I’m giving out pointers. A lot of the assistants say, ‘Man, you’ve got a lot to give this game after you’re done.’ So whether it’s coaching or being a general manager, it’s something I think about. I think it’s something that Kevin (Garnett, his former C’s and Nets teammate) has even thought about. Me and him talked about it. I think he would enjoy coaching. You know, Kevin likes to teach.”
Pierce, who has career averages of 21.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals has seen his production decline over the past two seasons, as the wear and tear of hundreds of NBA games — 1207 and counting — catches up with him.
This season with Washington (22-9, No. 3 in the Eastern Conference), he is shooting 44.6% from the floor, right at his career mark of 44.7%, and has made 36.3% of his 3-pointers, not too far off from the 37% he has made in his 16-plus seasons. Like last year with the Nets, he is playing below 30 minutes a game (27.0), but is contributing 13.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.8 steals in a Wizards uniform.
Even though he is a productive member of a successful team, the veteran knows retirement comes closer every day.
“I’m just going to listen to my body,” Pierce told the Herald. “Some days are better than others, definitely. But it’s going to be a personal and family decision — even going into this summer.”
In the meantime, he’ll keep doing what he did all those years in Boston — just maybe on a reduced scale. Gotta save those legs for coaching.
— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.
Paul Pierce’s name, for so many reasons, still conjures up images of Celtics green. So it’s only appropriate the 17-year veteran reached another NBA milestone against Boston Monday night.
Now in his first year with Washington, following a one-season cameo with Brooklyn, Pierce and the Wizards not only knocked off his former team of 15 seasons. They did it in double overtime, Pierce hit a critical three-pointer and he moved up to 16th all-time on the NBA scoring list.
A day after losing in Boston and scoring 16 points, the 37-year-old found some extra bounce in those old legs in D.C. on Monday, going for a season-high 28 points on 9-for-12 shooting (4-for-5 from 3-point range).
Pierce got the historic step out of the way early, in the second quarter, at the free-throw line. That’s where he moved past Indiana great Reggie Miller for 16th in all-time points scored.
Pierce spoke with The Washington Post’s Jorge Castillo about the moment after the 133-132 Washington win.
“I’ve accomplished a lot of things in this game, but I don’t think it’s really going to truly sink in until I sit down and walk away from the game and say, ‘Dang, look at the things you were able to accomplish.’ Right now, I’m just riding this wave. I’m still on my surfboard.”
By the end of the night, Pierce had 25,300 points on his résumé. Ahead of him now: No. 15, Alex English, at 25,613.
As Castillo points out, Pierce managed to stay in the game and play most of the two overtime periods without fouling out, though he was whistled for his fifth with more than five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“I’m a smart player,” Pierce said. “You look across the years, I don’t really foul out a lot. I know when I got four or five how to be cautious of that. I’m very aware of it.”
The Wizards needed the cagy vet, too. Pierce sank a 3-pointer to tie the game at 121 in the first OT.
Pierce is averaging 13.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Wizards (14-6), who are currently tied with Atlanta for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. They’re just a game and a half back of Toronto (16-5) and the No. 1 spot.
— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.
Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.
Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.
The first handful of games tipped off Tuesday, marking the start of the 82-game grind.
Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.
Paul Pierce — Washington Wizards
6-foot-9 Small forward | 17th season
2013-14 numbers: 75 games | 28.0 minutes | 13.5 points | 4.7 rebounds | 45.1 FG% | 37.3 3-pt% | 82.6 FT%
Did you ever get used to seeing Paul Pierce in a Brooklyn uniform?
Well, you won’t see that again this season. The long-time Celtic and one-year Net is now a Wizard, after signing a two-year free-agent deal with Washington this past summer.
Presumably this move doesn’t give Pierce any magical powers (of which we know) unless you count playing in the NBA for 17 years as wizardry.
Those years of experience actually are what made D.C. interested in the veteran, though. The Washington Post’s Mike Wise just wrote about the future Hall of Famer’s role with the mostly young, up-and-coming Wizards — a team that considers itself in the mix with Cleveland and Chicago in the race for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Wise reported on how the Wizards want Pierce to impart some of his wisdom — or “Truth” — on the young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, and the rest of the roster.
What’s more, Washington still thinks Pierce has enough in his holster to deliver some clutch shots for a team that envisions winning plenty of close/important games in the months to come.
“I feel like you get me on that stage, big game, bright lights, I can still perform at a high level,” Pierce told the Post. “Not as consistently as before. And I know I’m playing with better players that need the ball and I don’t have to do as much.
“But any given night on a big stage I feel like I can still be the best player on the court. And that’s with whoever is out there — Kobe, LeBron, Durant. Any given night.”
Speaking of some of those guys… Pierce made some waves on the eve of the season-opener. He said on “Mike and Mike” that he “can’t stand” LeBron James and other players because he wants to “beat all of them.”
Pierce appears to be embracing his role of crotchety old veteran. On the first night of the preseason — probably to send some kind of message to Chicago, such as “We’re coming for you” — Pierce fouled Jimmy Butler pretty hard in the open court, and later poked Joakim Noah in the face.
So what do we expect out of Pierce for the 2014-15 season?
Despite all the mileage on those legs, Pierce appears to be locked in as Washington’s starting small forward. He won’t fill up the stat sheet like he did in his heyday, but he will knock down shots and get to the foul line when Washington needs him to.
And the way he has acted the past few weeks, it looks like he’ll do all he can to get the Wizards to play with an edge and believe they are THE team in the East — not some also-ran.
’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:
Considering how much of a grind the 82-game regular season has to be for NBA players, you can’t blame the guys for enjoying the preseason goof-off spectacle that is NBA media days.
Players surely take their interview responsibilities seriously enough, but when it comes time to mean-mug or bring some absurdity to photo and video shoots, they happily oblige.
Believe it or not, it’s actually training camp time in The Association, so the past few days have been light-heartedly busy for most of the former Kansas University players lucky enough to call the NBA home.
Some get to enjoy it a little more than others, as you can see in our social media roundup from the festivities.
Cole Aldrich, New York Knicks
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Drew Gooden and Paul Pierce, Washington Wizards
Kirk Hinrich, Chicago Bulls
Nick Collison, Oklahoma City Thunder
Xavier Henry, Los Angeles Lakers
Marcus and Markieff Morris, Phoenix Suns
Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
Thomas Robinson, Portland Trail Blazers
Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
Media day / throw-down night
Minnesota had an open practice for Timberwolves fans to watch following its media day, nicknaming the fun: Dunks After Dark.
Wiggins delivered a few throw-downs to help it live up to its name.
Paul Pierce must be in the gambling mood this summer.
After surviving for three days at the World Series of Poker Main Event last week in Las Vegas, finishing around 800th, the 16-year veteran out of Kansas University shocked many NBA observers when news surfaced late Saturday night he had reached a deal with Washington.
One of seven former KU players in the expansive pool of available free agents this summer, Pierce, like nearly every other veteran in search of a contract, had to wait until LeBron James made his Decision: The Sequel. Once The King announced his return to Cleveland on Friday, the rest of the league began making moves. The Wizards couldn't re-sign Trevor Ariza, who chose Houston. That left a void at small forward for D.C., which Pierce will happily fill after signing a two-year contract worth $10.8 million.
Prior to the deal, reports indicated Pierce preferred to re-sign with Brooklyn or find a way — preferably via sign-and-trade, for more money — to get on the Clippers' roster and reunite with his former Boston coach, Doc Rivers.
The Nets reached the Eastern Conference semifinals this past spring, and could have made a similar or better run in 2015 with Pierce, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, aging-in-fast-forward Kevin Garnett and Brooklyn's key role players — assuming all were healthy.
Had Pierce landed in L.A., near his boyhood home of Inglewood, California, he could have joined a team that has to be considered one of the handful of favorites to contend for the NBA title next year, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leading the way.
Instead, "The Truth" decided to move in a different direction, to the nation's capital.
Why Washington? Well, it's a lot easier to reach the NBA Finals out of the East. In 2013-14, nine Western Conference teams won at least 48 games. In the East, just four organizations — Indiana, Miami, Toronto and Chicago — managed to do so.
Plus, LeBron's relocation makes the East wide open. Miami is no longer a juggernaut. Indiana faltered down the stretch last season. And Toronto is no longer in position to surprise anybody.
Chicago, which added Pau Gasol and (presumably) gets Derrick Rose back from his second knee injury in two years, will be a favorite in the East, along with Cleveland (any team with LeBron James on its roster is a title contender).
Still, neither of those teams is a sure-fire bet. No one knows whether Rose can still play at an MVP level and LeBron will be surrounded by guys with little to no playoff experience — and that includes Kevin Love, if the Cavs can swing a deal for the coveted power forward.
Washington could unseat the Heat atop the Southeast Division and find itself among the conference's top three seeds. The Wizards (44-38 in '13-'14) advanced to the second round as the No. 5 seed in the playoffs a few months back. And D.C. has one of the best young backcourts in the league, with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Add Pierce, in a complimentary role, to those two, Marcin Gortat and Nene Hilario, and you've got a lineup that can play with any of the East's top teams.
Pierce is betting on Wall and Beal instead of Williams and Johnson. If his latest gamble pays off, he could be cashing in on a deep playoff run in 2015.
The weekend also brought new NBA contracts for 'Hawks in the NBA free agents Cole Aldrich (New York), Kirk Hinrich (Chicago) and Mario Chalmers (Miami), all of whom re-signed with their previous teams.
The most surprising of those deals, by far, has to be Chalmers' two-year agreement with Miami. A Heat scapegoat in what turned out to be the franchise's last LeBron hurrah, a 4-1 NBA Finals defeat at the hands of San Antonio, Chalmers was yanked from the starting lineup in Game 5 and presumed on his way out of town once Miami drafted UConn point guard Shabazz Napier.
But James' departure left the Heat scrambling, so Chalmers, after averaging 4.4 points, 2.8 assists and 2.0 turnovers in the Finals, finds himself back in the fold with Miami's new Big Two: Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. (Big Three if you count newly signed Luol Deng.)
Xavier Henry, Drew Gooden and Brandon Rush remain on the market. Gooden is expected to re-sign with Washington, which would give the Wizards a pair of Jayhawks.
Rush will work out for some NBA teams Tuesday in Las Vegas. Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick says the Heat could be one franchise interested in the 6-foot-6 shooting guard, who only played 38 games for Utah in his sixth season.
Recovering from a torn ligament in his left wrist and an abnormality in his right knee's meniscus, Henry said in June he expects to be at 100 percent before the end of the summer.
Considering his team, the Sacramento Kings, had just selected a shooting guard — the same position at which he started 55 games as a rookie — with the eighth overall pick in the NBA Draft, Kansas University product Ben McLemore played it cool on draft night.
A year removed from his own introduction to the league, when the Kings took him seventh overall, McLemore sent out a welcome tweet to his new teammate (and potential competitor for playing time), Michigan guard Nik Stauskas:
Outwardly congenial, McLemore revealed to the Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones that the choice initially surprised him.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” McLemore told Jones. “At the same time, they felt he was the best available draft pick, so I’m fine with it. At the end of the day, it’s a business, and I’m just going to do what I have to do to get better as a player.”
While his rookie season included flashes of production and promise, such as when the league named McLemore the Western Conference rookie of the month in November, the first-year guard struggled in stretches, too. He finished the season with an 8.8 points per game scoring average and less than impressive shooting percentages: 37.6 from the floor and 32 from three-point range (he missed 202 of his 297 attempts).
As McLemore and other members of the Kings' summer league team gathered in Las Vegas for mini-camp on Monday, head coach Michael Malone indicated to the Bee that McLemore's performance didn't inspire the organization to try and draft a replacement in Stauskas, a 6-foot-6 shooting specialist who drained 44.2 percent of his three-pointers this past season at Michigan.
“There’s only a few LeBron James, Kevin Durants, Kobe Bryants out there,” Malone said. “Most rookies come out and struggle. (McLemore) went through the struggling times. The most important thing for me was February was his toughest month, but in March and April he really got himself up off the mat. He showed resilience and finished the season on a high note (career high 31 points in finale).”
Jones reported Sacramento's Monday practice included some experimentation with playing McLemore and Stauskas side by side.
“It was good,” the rookie told the Bee. “For the most part, we were on the floor at the same time. He’s a great player, and hopefully we can feed off each other well.”
After playing with Stauskas for the first time (they played against each other in the 2013 Sweet 16, when Michigan beat Kansas, 87-85, in overtime), McLemore gave a brief scouting report in a video interview posted on the Kings' website.
"We've kind of got a similar game," McLemore said. "We both can shoot the ball, we can put it down on the floor, you know, (do) different things. I think we'll be a good backcourt."
The Kings play their summer league opener Friday night in Las Vegas, against San Antonio.
'Hawks in free agency
Paul Pierce is in Las Vegas, too. But not for the NBA's summer league. Apparently unfazed by his status as an uncommitted free agent, "The Truth" is working on one of his favorite hobbies at the World Series of Poker.
As for what uniform he'll wear in his 17th NBA season? Pierce could re-sign with Brooklyn. But ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo reported the 36-year-old small forward wants $9 to $10 million a year, while the Nets would like to pay him between $6 and $8 million.
According to Mazzeo, Nets general manager Billy King said the Los Angeles Clippers inquired about a sign-and-trade deal for Pierce, who teamed with Clippers coach Doc Rivers to win an NBA title in Boston. However, King didn't like what L.A. offered.
Like Pierce, the six other KU products looking to sign as free agents might have to wait for stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh to make their decisions, because so many teams are holding back on contract offers until those pieces of the personnel puzzle fall into place.
Also still in limbo are Mario Chalmers, Xavier Henry, Kirk Hinrich, Drew Gooden, Brandon Rush and Cole Aldrich.
Aldrich told the Journal-World on Monday he would like to re-up with New York. Gooden told the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg he is interested in remaining in D.C., with the Wizards. Hinrich has long stated his desire to keep playing for Chicago.
Most NBA free agents can't wait for July 1. Shortly after midnight, the league's 30 teams can begin their full-court, offseasson press, courting the players they hope to throw multi-million dollar salaries at.
The start of free agency figures to bring equal parts anticipation and uncertainty to unrestricted free agent Mario Chalmers, coming off his sixth NBA season with Miami.
While the 6-foot-2 point guard from Kansas University became a starting lineup mainstay with the Heat, right along with superstar LeBron James and all-stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, his days with the Heat might be over after appearing in four straight NBA Finals with the organization that drafted him in the second round in 2008.
With Miami trying to figure out a way to to bring back the most sought after star in the NBA universe, James, as well as Wade and Bosh — all three free agents themselves — and trying to save every penny it can in the process, Chalmers suddenly appears dispensable. Though the former KU hero averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 assists this past regular season for Miami, but those numbers dropped to 6.4 points and 3.6 assists in the playoffs. Making matters worse for the free agent, Chalmers only put up 4.4 points and 2.8 assists, and averaged 2.0 turnovers in 23.1 minutes a game in the Finals, when San Antonio disposed of the back-to-back champs in five games.
Those five lackluster nights — 33 percent field goals in the series, 1-for-7 from 3-point range — in front of a world wide audience ignited the Twitter trolls, who posted pictures of trash alongside Chalmers' name or claimed his next uniform will be the one issued to Home Depot employees.
Of course, the only opinion that really matters is that of Heat president Pat Riley (who also figures to be keenly aware of LeBron's viewpoint). The night of the draft, James tweeted: "My favorite player in the draft! #Napier."
Shortly after, Miami pulled off a trade with Charlotte to attain the draft rights to Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier.
Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick wrote about Riley's ability to acquire Napier without giving up Miami's other point guard, Norris Cole. Miami's man in charge said the incoming UConn rookie and Cole would compete for playing time, and didn't offer much on where that leaves Chalmers.
"Mario's a free agent, so (we've) got to deal with that," Riley said in the report.
Back on June 17, Skolnick caught up with Chalmers as players packed up for the summer and tweeted that the free agent point guard would prefer to stay with Miami, but was "excited" about free agency.
"Nobody wants to leave South Florida," Chalmers told Skolnick. "We'll see what happens."
He won't be the only Kansas product chasing a new contract. In total, six other Jayhawks are unrestricted free agents: Brooklyn's Paul Pierce, the Los Angeles Lakers' Xavier Henry, Chicago's Kirk Hinrich, Washington's Drew Gooden, Utah's Brandon Rush and New York's Cole Aldrich.
Pierce seemed likely to re-sign with the Nets, but over the past few days, the team's head coach, Jason Kidd, decided he would rather work for Milwaukee. By Monday, the two organizations reached a deal to make Kidd the new coach of the Bucks. A new coach in Brooklyn could mean no more Pierce,
As ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin reported, Henry is recovering from a torn ligament in his left wrist and an abnormality in his right knee's meniscus. He could still be weeks of rehab away from 100 percent.
“All I know is I can play," Henry told McMenamin. "And when I’m 100 percent next season, I’m going to bring the energy and be able to play."
Hinrich stated on more than one occasion during the season that he would prefer to stay with the Bulls. But he might have to do some waiting to figure out if that's possible, as Chicago should be one of the major players in free agency and a possible landing spot for Carmelo Anthony.
Gooden, a late-season addition to Washington's roster might start his 13th NBA season in a striped Wizards uniform. Yahoo's Marc J. Spears tweeted Monday afternoon that the veteran power forward is expected to re-sign with D.C. for the league minimum.
The future, at this point, is far more unpredictable for Aldrich and Rush, though re-signing seems unlikely for either.
The Denver Nuggets' Darrell Arthur could have made it eight Jayhawks in free agency, but exercised the player option on his contract, instead of testing the waters. The six-year pro will make just under $3.5 million this coming season.
Well, that didn't exactly go as planned.
After much was made of Brooklyn veteran Paul Pierce requesting Miami überstar LeBron James as his defensive assignment, the four-time NBA MVP torched the nets and the Nets in Game 4 Monday night for 49 points on 16-for-24 shooting.
As you would imagine, Pierce became a popular Twitter target in the aftermath of Miami's 102-96 win, which put Brooklyn in a 3-1 hole in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Pierce, who scored 16 points in the loss, wasn't the only Net who couldn't as much as slow down the unstoppable James. NBA.com/stats showed LeBron scored 11 while being guarded one-on-one by the Kansas University product. James made 3 of 5 shots, 1 of 2 3-pointers, drew four fouls and drove to the paint twice versus The Truth.
Still, Pierce, a longtime rival of James at this point, had to be disappointed that he couldn't lead the charge in containing the force that is LeBron.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated noted a few reasons why Pierce never would buddy up with The King:
James's constant complaining irks Pierce, as does his belief, league sources say, that James once tried to recruit Doc Rivers to Cleveland when Rivers was coaching the Celtics.
“I really don’t care what Paul has to say. We don’t really get involved in that."
Game 4 was a difficult, potentially back-breaking loss for Brooklyn.
But Pierce, as quoted by Andrew Keh of The New York Times, hasn't lost all hope.
“We’ve just got to get one game. That’s the mind-set. The series is far from over. We’ve got to go down there, try to get one game and force the series back home.”
The Nets are on the brink of elimination, in part, due to a timely pass from KU product Mario Chalmers, who dished one of his seven assists in the final minute to Chris Bosh for a 3-pointer.
Chalmers, who had made 2 of 3 bombs of his own and scored 8 points, passed up a shot for an even better look.
The Heat will try to close out the series in Game 5 Wednesday night at Miami (6 p.m., TNT).
— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.
Paul Pierce and LeBron James have been battling in the NBA Playoffs for years.
The rivalry between the forwards began when Pierce played for Boston and James played for Cleveland, but it's continuing this postseason with Brooklyn and Miami in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Given the history between the two, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Pierce approached his coach, Jason Kidd, about guarding his old nemesis — as detailed in a story by Ohm Youngmisuk for ESPNNewYork.com.
In Game 3, Brooklyn had to win to keep the best-of-seven series manageable, and Pierce helped limit the ever-explosive James to 12 points over the last three quarters of a 104-90 Nets win on Saturday, which cut Miami's lead to 2-1.
"I went to J-Kidd [for] Game 2 and said I want that assignment. ... I think I've guarded him more than anybody in this gym. I know his tendencies a little bit more and I just try to step up in that role and try to lead that way."
That conversation came after James hit 10 of 15 shots in Game 1. The four-time league MVP shot 9-for-18 in a Game 2 win, and then went 8-for-15 in Game 3.
Pierce's defense against LeBron certainly hasn't been flawless.
But matchup data from NBA.com/stats shows that The Truth is making an impact on the defensive end. James and Dwyane Wade combined to score 48 of Miami's 90 points in the Miami's first loss of the playoffs. Pierce spent more time guarding one of those two in the half court than any other Brooklyn defender.
In 8:31 of game time, James and Wade got 29 half-court touches versus Pierce. They combined to score seven points — 3-for-7 field goals, 1-for-4 on 3-pointers and no trips to the foul line.
If it's up to the 36-year-old Pierce, one of the few people out there who believes Brooklyn can beat Miami and advance to the conference finals, he'll guard the 29-year-old LeBron the rest of the series. Averaging just 11.7 points a game in the series, Pierce told reporters he has to impact the game on defense.
"I don't have the offensive load that I had in the past where I set on having to carry us all the way offensively and then take the best defensive assignment. Now I can reserve a lot of energy toward trying to defend him. When the time comes for me to score, then I'll do that also."
Game 4 is at Brooklyn on Monday night (7 p.m., TNT).
Collison and Durant go way back
When Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant earned his first MVP award last week, he thanked each one of his Thunder teammates during an emotional acceptance speech.
The league's MVP made it clear through his words how important the honor was to him, but he also showed humility and appreciation for the players who helped him reach greatness.
Durant didn't come into the league playing at this level, and few know that better than Kansas alum Nick Collison. He has spent more time with Durant than any other player in an OKC uniform — the two began as teammates with the Seattle SuperSonics before the franchise moved to Oklahoma City.
Due to his unique perspective (Collison has been teammates with Durant since KD entered the league), Sports Illustrated asked him to write about playing alongside Durant for seven seasons.
Collison shared how limited the future superstar was as a rookie, and how he developed into the unguardable monster he is today. Now in his 10th season out of KU, the backup power forward appreciates what the MVP has meant for his livelihood.
Look at my career. I'm viewed as a guy who does the little things that help a team win. I have a niche, even a little bit of a cult following. But if I were on a losing team, no one would talk about that. And the reason for that is Kevin, and Russell Westbrook. Their success raises all of us.
Collison closes the piece by saying what an honor it has been for him to play with Durant.
And the feeling is mutual.
The Thunder are tied with the Los Angeles Clippers, 2-2, in a West semifinal. Game 5 is Tuesday night at Oklahoma City (8:30 p.m., TNT).
Social media buzz — Mother's Day edition
Noteworthy tweets and Instagram posts from and about the 'Hawks in the NBA:
— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.