BOSTON — As the third quarter ended on Saturday night, Paul Pierce jumped from his front row seat and demanded more cheers from the TD Garden crowd. Wearing what is believed to be his bottom, Celtics pajamas covered in shamrocks, Pierce waves one of his arms over his head, causing the fans around him to stand up and make noise. I called to
About 30 minutes later, Pierce got up again near the start of overtime and called out Lakers guard Patrick Beverly. And after the Celtics’ chaotic 125-121 overtime win, Pierce celebrated with the crowd before hugging Boston’s star of the night, Jaylen Brown. After playing in a long list of equally thrilling games, Pierce now finds himself enjoying his team’s success in a different way.
In some ways, Pierce wishes he had what Brown and Jayson Tatum have now: a chance to contend for a championship early in their careers. Pierce ultimately won his 2008 title in Boston, but had the Celtics shown more patience with him and Antoine Walker, he could have been in contention earlier in his NBA life. He believes he did.
“I think I would have had a chance (to fight for the championship) with Antoine Walker, but the team disbanded,” Pierce said, sitting on a sofa on the fourth floor of The Greatest Bar. Sometimes we made it to the finals of the conference and disbanded the team, and if I had the chance to grow with another young All-Star, I think I couldn’t help but improve. I think it’s a problem sometimes they don’t have the patience and they don’t understand they think their job is at stake and things change when they’re 25, 26 And I wish I had the opportunity to join a competing team.”
Tatum and Brown have that opportunity now. Pierce believes they should value it. After losing to the Warriors in his NBA Finals last season, he hopes the Celtics have learned enough from their setbacks to seize their next chance.
“That’s how you grow,” Pierce said. “Through the ups and downs. This core of Marcus (Smart), Tatum and Brown has seen heartache. And they are an inch closer to last year’s goal. I hope you continue to experience it, learn from it, move on to the next step, and get over the hump.”
From afar, Pierce has watched Tatum and Brown adjust and grow with each other. With Tatum’s shot lost, Brown took charge of the offense in the fourth quarter and overtime, scoring or assisting 25 of the Celtics’ final 44 points.
“I think they grew up because they developed a friendship,” Pierce said. “I think we have grown because we have no ego. Together they are trying to accomplish something. And they’re doing it, doing it as a team and being successful individually. “
As Boston trailed by three points in the final seconds of regulation, Tatum made an extra pass and found Al Horford wide open in the corner. Horford’s shot missed badly, but Brown tracked the rebound and put in a second-chance layup to bring the Celtics within a point. tied the score.
Brown had just missed two straight clutch free throws in the Celtics’ previous game.
“I had the same opportunity tonight,” Brown said. “It’s funny how life works after just one game. , trust yourself and do what you have to do. Don’t let one game define you or one moment define you.”
Energy Shifter ⚡️@FCHWPO is tonight @gatorade Player of the Game pic.twitter.com/fdCk2k8DfP
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 29, 2023
Tatum fouled LeBron James for the last time in regulation after Brown made a free throw. The referee later ruled that he missed what should have been a foul call. The Celtics outscored the Lakers 20-16 in overtime before eventually snapping a three-game losing skid. Brown scored his six points in the first of overtime, and his daring pull-up 3-pointer with 4:08 left gave him three points.
Pearce appreciated the shot. After the match, he was seen pushing his fist up. The Celtics have dropped a few games recently, but he said he recognizes a rare confidence in them. He said he started feeling similar things during training camp in 2007 after acquiring Ray Allen. According to Pearce, one day the players even told head coach Doc Rivers that they didn’t have to do shootarounds against certain opponents.
“Especially after winning the championship, there was one day the following year when he came to practice. I remember it like it was yesterday. I told Doc,” Pierce said. He said. “And we went out there and practiced and never won. We came in on shootaround day and told Doc we didn’t need a shootaround to beat them. I did.
Pierce warned that the Celtics still need to heed some of the advice Rivers was giving the old Boston team. I like the way you act like you don’t have In his eyes, such feelings are abnormal. Only the best teams develop it. Boston had it during their championship run with Pierce. He said he could see well-earned swagger within the current group.
“You have to know your chemistry,” Pierce said. “You have to know the players behind you. They must have a night where they know they’re going to take someone down, except against Orlando.”
Unlike the best days of Pierce’s career, the Celtics and Lakers won’t clash in the NBA Finals unless something drastic changes occurs in the Western Conference. Still, rivalry is important. With James in town for purple and gold, the buzz inside TD Garden far overshadowed the usual game vibe. About three hours before tip-off, fans at The Greatest Bar were excited to see Pierce. As he sat down, a large crowd lined up and chanted MVP. The moment he stood up, many fans shouted, “Beat LA! Beat LA!”
Fifteen years after the championship, Pierce remains royalty in Boston.
“This is home,” Pierce said. “This is home, man. This is what Boston is all about. is all of.”
(Top photo of Jaylen Brown hugging Paul Pierce after Saturday’s game: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)