ATLANTA – From what we gather, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen get along fabulously. They’ve won a championship together. Allen attended Pierce’s wedding last summer. They have other common interests, perhaps. There’s a bond.
Oh, but can you imagine the trash-talking that’s going on between them right now?
Pierce will defend his 3-point championship in L.A. on All-Star Saturday and who’s the biggest threat? None other than the guy who’s poised to become the all-time 3-point shooter in NBA history. Yes, that would be Allen, who will take down Reggie Miller first for that career honor, then take aim at Pierce. Surely, this rift will divide the close-knit Celtic locker room and possibly destroy team chemistry for the season. Doc Rivers‘ job just got tougher, trying to referee such a bitter contest between two of his most important players.
Besides, Allen doesn’t talk smack; his verbal confrontation with Kobe Bryant years ago was the exception, not the norm. Still, there will be some good-natured give-and-take between now and Feb. 19. The burden is on Allen, obviously; he’s made a career from the 3-point line, while Pierce is a streaky long-distance shooter.
The title will probably be decided by a Celtic, because the rest of the field isn’t as good as it could’ve been. There’s no Kyle Korver, a 41-percent shooter. Or Matt Bonner, the Spurs’ specialist who’s making half his shots this season. Or Steph Curry, who lost to Pierce in the final round last year (perhaps Steph is being punished for that). Or Mike Bibby, a veteran 3-point shooter, or Kevin Love, a rare power forward with range. At least there is an interesting subplot between James Jones and Dorell Wright; the Heat gave up on Wright last summer partly because they were sold on Jones.
I suspect Pierce, in order to gain a psychological edge, might remind Allen of that 0-for-13 stretch in the NBA Finals last summer. Is that out of bounds? We’ll see.