It’s been 19 years today since Paul Pierce brought the ball across half court in Game Four of the Celtics-Pacers 2003 first-round playoff series. With time expiring in the third, a then two-time All-Star taunted his defender Al Harrington by describing the exact move he was about to enact on the Pacers big-man.
Two seconds later, a 25-year-old Pierce side-stepped to his left and launched a trey ball to the back of the rim and through the net as TD Garden exploded.
Coming off the heels of a first-round sweep against the Brooklyn Nets, Celtics star forward Jayson Tatum dished out some commentary on Pierce’s clutch step-back bucket.
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“I felt like he told him what he was about to do. Talking to him, side-step trey ball in the Garden. Something I might do,” Tatum said.
Tatum’s duffy has been on full display since hitting a game-winning layup in Game 1 against the Nets at home, while the side-step trey ball has been a staple in the young star’s bountiful arsenal of offensive weapons. In their sweep against Brooklyn, Tatum averaged a team-high 29.5 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting a scintillating 41.9 percent from beyond the arc.
He’s taken the step as a two-way superstar against one of the game’s best scoring threats, holding Kevin Durant to just 12 points and 3-18 shooting as his primary defender throughout the series.
With Milwaukee entering Game 5 tonight against the Chicago Bulls with a 3-1 lead, the Celtics and Tatum might soon find their matchup for the Eastern Conference semifinals.