Before the playoffs began, Paul Pierce had some less-than-flattering things to say about the Nets, a team he played for the previous season.
Pierce specifically targeted Deron Williams, and questioned whether or not he could truly perform on one of the game’s biggest stages.
“Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,” Pierce said. “But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that.
“I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”
It didn’t affect him in Game 4, where Williams turned in a transcendent 35-point performance to lead his team to a Game 4 victory over the top-seeded Hawks, silencing all critics in the process.
Jarrett Jack was among those that were there to pick up Williams when he was down the last few days, and after Williams responded brilliantly on the court, Jack addressed Pierce’s comments.
From Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
“I’m not worried about people that’s saying stuff that’s not inside this locker room. So, if you’re on another team and you comment on another player, I don’t understand why you’re doing that anyway,” Jack told the News. “Especially that’s something that’s in the past, it’s over and done with. If you had something you want to say, you should have done it when you were in the locker room with him. And doing it publicly, I just thought that was, I don’t know. I don’t want to say it’s in poor taste because I think Paul is a professional, he’s just answering a question, but I probably wouldn’t have done it in that fashion.”
Should the Nets continue to come together they way they have over the past two games, and find a way to become just the sixth eighth-seeded team to knock off a one-seed in postseason history, they’ll get a chance to face Pierce and the Wizards in the second round.