Paul Pierce said after the Game 1 loss to the Hawks that for the Celtics to win, he had to play better. Without the suspended Rajon Rondo, he was not just better Tuesday night in a Game 2 win over the Hawks, he was spectacular. The Celtics captain scored 36 points, hauled down 14 rebounds in 44 minutes and played defense on Joe Johnson to help the Celtics even the series, 1-1, and earn home court advantage the rest of the way.
"I felt I had to do everything," Pierce said with a laugh postgame. "With Rondo being out, a lot of responsiblity falls on me with play-making, scoring, rebounding. But that's all part of it. A number of guys stepped up tonight, not only myself. I thought we played terrific defense throughout. We rebounded the ball and got off to a great start, which was important.
"It was a good team win tonight. Everybody who played tonight, really contributed, from Ryan Hollins, Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus, they did a good job for me. They took a lot of pressure off me by guarding Joe Johnson so that enabled me to be more aggressive on the offensive end so I could do the things to help the ballclub."
Pierce said he knew his team believed in him, even after a sub-par Game 1 performance.
"A lot of experience, confidence, being in those moments, believing in yourself, coaches that believe in you, teammates that believe in you, it's a combination of all those things," Pierce said. "Just the confidence that you have so many people that believe in you, whether you succeed or fail. There's a lot of times that I failed that put me in the position I'm in now. It was a team win. I can't take all the credit for this. A lot of guys really contributed."