Posted by Shaun Powell
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Orlando is cooking up some changes. At least that’s what Stan Van Gundy strongly hinted at following practice today. Well, at least one is quite obvious. Matt Barnes, meet Paul Pierce.
Through two games of the Eastern Conference Finals the Magic used Vince Carter on Pierce and the results have mostly been disastrous. Pierce went through, over and around Carter in Game 2, scoring his 28 points virtually at will. So now, the Magic are finally getting the drift: Carter can’t check Pierce. Not today, tomorrow or in the distant future.
Barnes, however, will get in Pierce’s grill. Barnes is a tough guy who loves the responsibility that goes with defending the other team’s best scorer. He said: “It’s the challenge. I love it. That’s my role on this team. That’s my job.”
Besides, Carter is wasting so much energy on the defensive end that he doesn’t have much on offense, where he’s needed. So look for Barnes to wrap himself around Pierce tighter than Pierce’s headband. Not saying it’ll work. But can only be an improvement. The highlight of Barnes’ season was going jaw-too-jaw with Kobe Bryant earlier this year, taunting Kobe with elbows and lots of lip and once even pretending to toss the ball off Kobe’s face (oddly, Kobe didn’t even flinch, which says plenty about Kobe).
Pierce, meet Barnes. Game 3. Let’s go.