Paul Pierce returned to the Nets lineup on Tuesday after missing the last four games with a broken bone in his hand.
But he wasn’t in his usual spot in the team’s starting lineup.
Facing his former Boston Celtics, Pierce came off the bench for just the fourth time in his storied career. And his head coach, Jason Kidd, liked what he saw.
From Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
“I liked him being a leader with that second group,” Kidd said. “Will it stay that way? I don’t know. We will look at the video tomorrow as a team and coaches. I will talk to Paul and see what his comfort level is, but I would like to get him back, give him more minutes and get him used to that glove.”
It was just the fourth time in his 16-year career — almost exclusively with the Celtics — that Pierce came off the bench. Alan Anderson started in his place, scoring 15 points in 35 minutes.
“It’s all about winning,” Pierce said. “If that’s what’s best for the team, then so be it.”
Pierce was 0-for-3 from the field, perhaps limited by the brace he wore to protect his injured shooting hand. But he grabbed seven rebounds and finished with three assists and a steal in just over 22 minutes of action, impacting the game in other ways.
Coaches around the league will tell you that starting lineups mean little, and that the players who are on the floor finishing the game are far more important to a given team’s success. Pierce played 7:56 in the final frame, which may be part of the reason (along with the ultimate, winning result) he’s fine with starting the game watching from the bench.
The Toronto Raptors are headed to the 2019 NBA Finals, and they are going to need every player on their roster if they want a chance at dethroning the Golden State Warriors.
Forward OG Anunoby has been out since early April after needing an emergency appendectomy. He has not played in the playoffs yet this season, but a new report says the Raptors may be hopeful he could return before the end of this final series.
Anunoby Is a useful second-year forward who plays hard on both ends of the floor. Toronto is going to have a hard time matching up with the Warriors defensively, whether Kevin Durant plays or not. Having Anunoby available would help Toronto be more switchable and more adept at taking on some of Golden State’s smaller lineups.
We don’t have a timetable for Anunoby’s potential return yet, but the way the Finals are spaced out (Game 1 is on Thursday, Game 2 is next Sunday) it could help get players healthy and ready.
That could be good news for Kawhi Leonard, who sat out several games this year simply to rest. Leonard has looked a little banged up through these playoffs, as has just about everyone else. The bad news for Toronto is that this time between games could also help the Warriors get Durant ready to play.
Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals is on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Canada.
People are already getting tired of Drake being a prominent figure in the storyline of the Toronto Raptors. They will have to just deal with it for now as Toronto is headed to the 2019 NBA Finals after beating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night.
That said, Drake is actually an ambassador for the Raptors. Some folks seem to forget that.
There was a dust-up during the Eastern Conference Finals about Drake having given Raptors coach Nick Nurse a shoulder rub during Game 4. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer thought that fans shouldn’t be interacting with members of the coaching staff or players, but the Raptors didn’t seem to think it was that big a deal.
After the Raptors won on Saturday, Drake embraced Nurse yet again, playing off of the initial kerfuffle.
Get ready to see more Drake than you’ve ever wanted.
The Toronto Raptors are headed to their first NBA Finals in franchise history. Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night in Game 6 to send them home and push Toronto into the final series of the year against the Golden State Warriors.
Raptors fans, who have been perennially disappointed by teams who were just good enough, naturally found themselves celebrating in the streets of Ontario. Videos of cars honking and people walking through the avenues surfaced on social media, with the whole thing looking like a big party.
The Raptors aren’t the most talented team in the Eastern Conference, but they did have the best player in the entire playoffs this season in Leonard. Coach Nick Nurse figured out a way to stop the Bucks by collapsing on Antetokounmpo, and Milwaukee’s shooters went cold at just the wrong time. The rest of the Raptors bench finally gave Leonard some support, and Toronto was able to mount a comeback in the series to push themselves into the NBA finals.
For that, both Toronto and the Raptors fans deserve to be overjoyed with what’s happening right now.
Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals will be on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Toronto.
The Milwaukee Bucks season is over. Giannis Antetokounmpo and his supporting cast couldn’t get things done in Game 6 on Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors in Canada. Now it’s Kawhi Leonard who is heading to the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
This season was a magical one for Milwaukee, one in which they took the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference and likely have the league’s MVP in Antetokounmpo.
As you might expect, Bucks fans are happy about that fact, and showed up to the Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport to greet their returning team.
It has to be nice for athletes to get this kind of treatment. Although some may want to just go home and languish in their defeat, the unwavering support of fanatics has to take the bite out of the sting, even if just a little bit.