With Paul Pierce set to enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this summer, PaulPierce.net is taking a special look back at some of the best moments in his illustrious career.
In this first top-5 series, we’re looking specifically at what The Truth has done when the pressure is on and when every bucket could prove to be the end of the season or the start of an NBA Finals run.
We’re talking about playoff basketball.
Tipping off the countdown at the fifth spot in this ranking is one of Paul’s most clutch finishes in his NBA career, as the aging Truth proved to the world that he wasn’t quite ready to hang up his jersey just yet.
Truth Calls Game To Take Game 3 Over Hawks
With just 14 seconds left on a running clock, the Washington Wizards found themselves in an unenviable position on their home floor. They had once led the pivotal Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks by 20 points. Afterward, they would admit that they thought the game was over by the start of the fourth quarter.
“We got comfortable,” guard Bradley Beal said.
Fortunately, the Wizards had possession. They also happened to have one of the most clutch performers in the history of the league.
With All-Star guard John Wall missing due to a wrist injury, and still budding star Bradley Beal drawing the attention of the Atlanta defense, the Wizards wisely fed the ball to 38-year-old Paul Pierce.
The Truth got an off-ball switch onto the smaller guard Dennis Schroder. Facing the basket with an ideal matchup, The Truth launched a fallaway mid-range jumper as the buzzer sounded that banked off the backboard and through the net giving the Wizards an improbably 103-101 victory and 2-1 series lead.
The crowd at the Verizon Center erupted in a way it never had before while Paul laid on the hardwood floor with his hands shooting up to the sky as his teammates bombarded him in celebration. Pierce finished with 13 points on the night, his seventh-straight game in double figures, though no one would argue that his last two points in Game 3 were undoubtedly the most important during this playoff run.
When asked by ESPN analyst Chris Broussard after the game if he called “bank!” as he shot that game-winning jumper, Paul thought for a moment and then emphatically responded in a way only The Truth could.
“I called ‘Game!’” Pierce said.