05/30/2012 - 16:54
On the Road for Game Two, Paul and the Celtics Feel Right at Home
Ryan Laughlin and the Paul Pierce Team
After the first game of every playoff series, pundits and experts love to act like the rest of the series is merely a formality: "Game one went like this, and therefore the remaining games will play out like so…"
This tendency is great for conversation. And after the Celtics' hard-fought battle against the Heat, the talking heads were excited to shovel dirt on Boston's season. But all the would-be prognosticators out there are forgetting one thing: over the past five years, Paul Pierce and the Celtics are nothing short of extraordinary in Game 2s.
Since the advent of their “Big Three” in 2007, the Celtics have fallen behind 0-1 in five different playoff series. This is supposed to be the kiss of death, as teams that lose the first game of a playoff series go on to lose that series 80% of the time. But Paul and the Celtics have won four of those five series, and even more amazingly, all four of those wins came on the road, giving the Celtics a tied series heading back to the TD Garden.
Winning these kinds of games requires a different kind of composure, and a different style of play. With the opposing crowd in hysterics, Paul has historically done what he has to do to shut them up. In Game 2s, he drives to the basket more. He earns more trips to the free throw line. He crashes the boards harder.
Just 30 days ago, Paul willed his team to a Game Two win over the Atlanta Hawks, scoring 36 points and hauling in 14 rebounds, in a game that led the Celtics to prevail in a seven game series, and also further cemented Paul's place among the franchise's top players, along with Bird, Russell and Havlicek.
There's no crystal ball that will predict what's going to happen tonight. But Paul and the rest of his teammates have a habit of defying the odds, no matter how steep they are.