By Roscoe Whalan
“Our goal right now is to make sure that we don’t go back through customs,” Paul Pierce said with a smirk post-game on Friday night.
He really doesn’t want to go back to Canada.
Canadians probably don’t want him to come back either — nor will they likely have to after the Raptors fell into 0-3 hole in their first round match up with the Wizards.
“I love playoff basketball. I love everything about it,” Pierce said.
It looks like it too — the 37-year-old king of talking trash continues to back it up on the court, dropping in 18 points in Game 3 including 4/7 from beyond the arc in 27 minutes of action.
The “this is why they got me here” Pierce has so famously barked on the court multiple times has been on full display in Games One and Two of the First Round.
Last night, he did it again.
“I mean, that’s why we brought him here,” Coach Randy Wittman said after the game — perhaps not completely aware that he was quoting Pierce’s now famous phrase, “In these kinds of situations he’s not scared of the moment.”
In a series between two teams that entered the playoffs struggling, Pierce, one of the few remaining players in the NBA from the 90s, has helped spark the Wizards and some life into the series.
Not surprisingly, Pierce’s impression has come since being slid back over to a stretch 4 position — a spot where he found similar success in the playoffs last year as a Brooklyn Net, also against the Raptors.
Moving Paul Pierce over to the four has opened up the floor for John Wall who is dishing out dimes like he’s just won the lottery (32 assists in the last two games).
It begs the question though — where was this Wizards during the regular season?
“We were saving it for the playoffs,” Pierce said with a laugh.
The Wizards have seem to have found their rhythm at the right time — as for the Raptors well, it’s nearly over.
As for Pierce and the Wizards, they’re hoping there’s still a long way to go.
“You got all summer to party — right now it’s the playoffs.”
Gooden Gets Going
Pierce wasn’t the only old dog pulling tricks out there in Game Three — Drew Gooden III also chipped in, yes, you read that correctly, with 12 points off the bench.
“I got the green light from the coaches and my teammates, I mean the neon green light — they actually get mad at me if I don’t shoot it,” Gooden III said after the game.
Gooden’s a survivor in the NBA, playing for 10 teams in 13 years but just 18 months ago he was unemployed.
“I’m just fortunate and I think that time being away from the game really just showed me that this is not promised,” Gooden said adding, “the next day is not promised”.
Gooden has reinvented himself as a stretch 4 in the late stages of his career too. He’s only made 81 threes in his career — 30 of those have been in his last year and a half with the Wizards.
Otto Porter Busting Out
The third overall pick from the 2013 NBA Draft has taken his time to find his feet in the NBA but he’s doing it at the right time.
After a year of Russian roulette in Wittman’s hunt for a back-up swingman, he’s finally landed on Porter, with Rasual Butler and Martell Webster taking their place at the end of the bench (I didn’t say it was necessarily tough competition).
Porter dropped two huge triples in the final quarter: first to give the Wizards a three point lead, and then another just a minute later to stretch that lead to five.
“He’s growing up right before our eyes,” Gooden III said after the game.
Just a couple of weeks after Pierce said he might punch Porter to get him fired up — the threat appears to have paid off with Porter coming to life on the court.
Not only did he hit key shots down the stretch but he also locked down DeMar DeRozan in the second half. DeRozan had 20 in the first quarter and 23 at half-time but finished with just 32.
“He’s starting to play with a little more fire,” Pierce said after the game about his apprentice.
In fact, early in the third quarter, when Porter stared DeRozan down after an emphatic block.
When asked about it after the game, Drew Gooden III laughed, “I don’t believe that!”
“He’s growing up right before our eyes”.
Roscoe Whalan is a #BTHype US Correspondent & will be covering games across the East Coast, based in Washington for believethehypeNBA.com this season. Follow him on Twitter: @RoscoeWhalan7