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BOSTON (CBS) – Although he had a tough shooting night, Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce nailed the biggest shot when it mattered most in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Miami.
With the Celtics up just one with the game entering the final minute, Pierce had the ball at the left wing. With LeBron James on him and the shot clock winding down, Pierce calmly nailed a 25-footer to put the Celtics up 90-86 with 52.9 seconds remaining.
Pierce has been there before, and said he was just going on instincts when he let it fly.
“It’s kind of hard to say in those situations, things are going so fast, you kind of play on instincts,” Pierce said. “I saw (James) back up, he gave me a step. I knew it was within my range. The shot clock was winding down — I just took a shot. That’s just being in those moments so many times and understanding what your team needs and being able to concentrate and get the best shot for us.”
“I thought that was the best shot,” he continued. “Once I saw him back up, then I was able to knock it down.”
It was a hero shot from a hero player. It ended up being the dagger in Boston’s 94-90 victory that has them one win away from their third trip to the NBA Finals in five years.
Pierce’s head coach loved the result of the play, but had other thoughts as Pierce stood at the wing.
“I kind of wanted him to drive, honestly,” head coach Doc Rivers admitted from the podium. “I’ve been around Paul long enough that, right when he got into the footwork, you knew he was going to shoot it. At least I did, because I’ve seen him enough. I didn’t know if I wanted that shot. Honestly, I thought he was going to drive it, but he made it. That’s what players like Paul do. It really is. He’s a big shot maker, he always has been.”
Center Kevin Garnett, who led Boston with 26 points, knew the shot was going in as soon as it left Pierce’s hand.
“The Truth,” Kevin Garnett told ESPN’s Doris Burke on the floor following the game. “When he shoots certain shots I know it’s going in and when he has a certain confidence going, it’s ‘the truth.’ When Shaq gave him that nickname, he was right on.”
Pierce finished with 19 points despite struggling from the field early on, going 6-for-19 from the floor over 43 minutes.