Pierce Discusses Game 1 Ejection at Practice
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – With the WWE taking over the American Airlines Arena for Monday Night Raw, the Celtics had to look elsewhere - to the University of Miami - to hold Monday afternoon’s practice. Given the physical nature of Game 1 on Sunday, the idea of some smackdown seems appropriate for a series that could turn into a seven-game battle royal.
Then again, as Doc Rivers sees it, the NBA isn’t nearly as physical as it was back in his day, and officials are quick to blow the whistle and stem any altercations before they come to blows. It’s simply a different game than it was 20 years ago.
“I don’t know if anybody’s physical anymore to be honest,” Rivers said after the team’s film session and before their practice at the University of Miami. “We play the way we play. We just didn’t do a very good job of it last night.”
“They played the game with better force than we did.”
Paul Pierce, who was ejected after picking up a pair of technical fouls following plays he and Rivers both felt should have been flagrant fouls, finally met with reporters today after declining to meet the press following Sunday’s Game 1 loss. He still doesn’t agree with the calls, and was upset when he got ejected, but was more upset about leaving the Celtics shorthanded in the fourth quarter while they were trying to stage a comeback.
"I was more upset about letting my teammates down,” Pierce said. “I'm too important to this team."
“Referees called what they saw. I did a bad job keeping my composure. I overreacted. I thought it should have been a flagrant on both of the plays. I was surprised at getting kicked out. I didn’t think what I did warranted an ejection.”
Asked if he expected the physical play to continue, Pierce hedged, saying, “It’s not a movie or a script. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen game-in or game-out.”
Delonte West, on the other hand, who also picked up a technical Sunday, said he definitely expects a more physical series going forward.
“That’s what you expect,” West stated. “There’s tough physical play throughout the playoffs. As much as they want to make it, it’s not a gentlemen’s game. There’s full padding underneath those jerseys. It’s not golf. They want us to play like it’s golf.”
One man who could bring the Celtics a large, physical presence is Shaquille O’Neal, and once again, Shaq is still trying to get himself ready to play in the postseason. He was expected to go through another workout at today’s practice, and the Celtics are hopeful he may be available to play either in Tuesday’s Game 2, or down the road in the series.
“Whatever we do today, if his body doesn’t react well, then we just can’t play him,” Rivers said. “I’m not going to take that risk for him.”