The Big 3 have yet to have a game where they are all clicking the finals. Typically, this kind of element elicits one of two reactions from the players in question. Either a Kobe-esque “We’ll be fine. Next game, we’ll come out and take care of business” or a more focused “We have to step it up next game, have to make it an area of emphasis” kind of statement. But the Celtics, with the confidence and experience they have, aren’t going down that road. All they care about is the win, and they obviously think they can continue to get wins without a breakthrough from multiple members of their best players. Especially Paul Pierce.
Pierce told the Boston Herald in regards to his offensive production in the series:
“Usually when somebody has a bad game, I think they have to find it
within themselves to go out there and help this team win, because when I
don’t score and I don’t do certain things, I never look at it as a bad
game, especially for me, especially if we win,” Pierce said. “I always
find some way to turn it around, say this is what I did to help my
ballclub win. But as far as getting guys going, you know, this team
ain’t really like that. It’s not like if I don’t go out here and score
20 or Ray doesn’t do it then that’s the emphasis on the next game. The
emphasis is all about playing the right way, playing defense, sharing
Still, while the Game 4 win on the backs of Glen Davis and Nate Robinson surely was entertaining and the stuff of Finals lore, that’s not a formula the Celtics can depend on. The Celtics’ bench has certainly stepped up in their wins this series, but similarly have faded in their losses. The Boston Big 3 has to get going if they’re going to win one when the series of unfortunate events the Lakers have faced (Kobe’s foul trouble, bizarre calls, Andrew Bynum’s injury) don’t befall them. This isn’t to say the Celtics haven’t had their share of cosmic pratfalls (Derek Fisher going off, their own share of bizarre calls). But it is to say that the Celtics need to put the fear of God into the Lakers with the offensive firepower their best players can provide.
Pierce has been waking from his offensive slumber more with every game. In Game 4 he finally found his way to the right elbow for that sweet spot step back jumper that is his trademark. The Celtics’ screens are punishing the Lakers, creating more space each time through and in a series that has taken on the mark of attrition, that may be the difference. But Pierce has to capitalize and needs to have an alpha dog mindset in Game 5.
Because the alpha dog on the other side will definitely be bringing his bark and his bite.