So the drama continues. Two road team wins and another potentially serious injury (J-Smoove). Seems like all you can count on is the Lakers these days. On to the votes…
3 votes – Paul Pierce. With three minutes left in the third quarter, the Celtics looked cooked. The Hawks were up by eleven, were getting contributions across the board, and it was painfully obvious that Avery Bradley was NOT Rajon Rondo. Enter The Truth. From that point on Pierce had 18 points, including a killer three that stretched the lead to seven late in the fourth, and some game-sealing free throws that warranted “hitting them with a Tebow”.
I love Paul Pierce, it’s no secret. I love him more than Ray Allen. I love him more than 90% of the Carlton Football team and even more than some of my family. So if you want an impartial judgement of this game and of today’s 3-2-1 votes, you won’t get it. When Paul Pierce scores 36 points, pulls down 14 rebounds, hits double-digits in the fourth and carries his team to a playoff victory without their starting PG or SG, he will always get 3 votes. And if by chance someone else somehow played better on the day, then stiff shit for them. Pierce gets 3 votes. Always.
2 votes – Kobe Bryant. I didn’t get to see this game, but I did watch a 15-minute cut down version and damn, did Kobe Bryant put on a clinic. Sure, I didn’t see all the shots he missed or the passes he should have made, but go and watch Kobe’s highlights today and it truly is a clinic. The array of shots he made, back to the basket, front to the basket, and even sideways to the basket, was incredible. His chasedown on Al Harrington was inspiring, and his steal and coast-to-coast then dish to Bynum was simply beautiful (and it saved the game). What a contrast to Kobe this time last post-season, who was visibly hampered by injury and straining on every possession. Today he made it look just so damn easy, and it’s a bit ominous to tell you the truth. A healthy Kobe with a strong team in the post-season usually means a championship. Let’s see what happens. For now, all we know is that he was not as good as Paul Pierce today.
1 vote – Jrue Holiday. With an honourable mention to Andrew Bynum, it’s only fair Holiday gets a vote for his brutally efficient 11-15 shooting display, giving him a game-high 26 points in Philly’s win over the Bulls. Mind you, he didn’t feature very heavily in the Sixers incredible third quarter where they outscored the Bulls 36-14. Incredible not only because of that 22 point difference, but because of the relentless tempo the 76′ers played with – that was some of the best fast-break basketball I’ve seen in a while. To do it to Chicago is all the more impressive. If they can turn in more quarters like that, Philly are a real chance to steal this series. It’s just a pity Jrue’s offensive outburst occurred on the same day that Paul Pierce exploded on everyone’s face.