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Two Careers, Summed Up

 

In a post a few months go, I wrote that Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce were clearly the two best players from the 1998 draft. Nowitzki was selected at #9 and Pierce at #10. 

I expected at least one comment arguing for Vince Carter’s (the #5 pick) place in that discussion. After all, the career per-game numbers look like this:

Pierce: 22.5 points, 6.1 boards, 3.8 assists on 44.5 percent shooting and 36.9 shooting from three. 

Carter: 22.9 points, 5.3 boards, 4.2 assists on 44.5 percent shooting and 37.5 shooting from three. 

And yet nobody made a peep in Carter’s defense. 

The end of last night’s game is a perfect encapsulation of why that is.

As you know, Paul Pierce sank two clutch free throws with 34 seconds left to give Boston a 95-92 lead. He drove aggressively, pulled up near the foul line and drew a foul the Magic argued they didn’t commit. The Magic did not want Pierce at the line.

Three seconds later, Vince Carter made a wonderful move to the basket, and Paul Pierce, with 5 fouls, nearly tackled him. Pierce preferred Carter earn his two points at the foul line, even if it meant fouling out. That alone is not a knock on Carter; the Celtics were ahead when Pierce made his decision to foul, while the Magic were behind and needed a straight-up stop.

Carter bricked the two free throws. 

Of course, it’s not fair to boil two careers down to one sequence. Paul Pierce, despite his reputation, has missed many clutch foul shots in his career, as have most players; for a while in 2008 and 2009, it seemed as if Pierce hit 1-of-2 in every clutch foul-shooting spot. 

And Carter, despite his reputation, has hit a few notable clutch shots in his career. And he’s got the rest of this series to make everyone forget about the two shots he missed last night.

But at this moment, those two misses are are in the top half of Carter’s career obituary. They won’t make the lead paragraph or even the second and third paragraphs—those are reserved for how he burned Toronto fans, his dunking and the semi- trumped up controversy about his game-day graduation from UNC. 

But those missed foul shots come up pretty quickly after that, considering this is Carter’s first-ever appearance in the conference finals, and those are arguably the biggest foul shots of his pro career.

And those two makes by Pierce? They don’t even make his career obit, probably not even in a footnote.

  • urbeltic

    Pierce is a Celtic. The dude has been in the trenches and battled it all out for YEARS and come out a mature, seasoned, clutch, piece of the team. I noticed this when I heard his post game news conference…he just said the right thing. He kept say, we’re a “focused, determined group”. I think back to the post game comments a couple years ago in the playoffs when he showed up with bandages wrapped around his head and was complaining about the refs….that was the bad PP. PP now, is someone I’m proud is on my team.

    I can’t comment on VC as much, but he was complaining and whining the whole game, and just couldn’t keep it cool. I’m glad he is on Orlando.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    wince is not someone you want to go to war with. maybe i’m biased with my home-country connection to the early days of “air canada”.

    nice guy. super talented. decided graduation (and a promise to his mom) was more important than 100% focus on his job in crunch time. fair enough. but not the alpha dog who will carry you to the promise land of nba titles.

  • What More Can I Say?

    “Wince” carter can’t handle pressure.

  • Jay P

    I think I remember at some point mentioning something about how if the Celtics just guarded Lebron and Wade, so Vince Carter would break like wet tissue paper in any high stress situation…

    Love it when I’m right.

  • Perry

    @Zach

    Many years ago in the playoffs, game 4 I think it was, Pierce missed two free throws with the game on the line. The Celts were swept out of the series.

    The separation between the two players has more to do with heart, mental toughness, and a commitment to improving one’s game in the off season.

    Gee it sounds like I’m talking about Rondo. Can we say the same of Howard? Clearly if he had a drop step or could shoot facing the basket the Magic flaws would have been harder to expose. Instead they are a one dimensional team which plays inside-out.

    There’s a lot to be said about the Magic missing Turk’s play making in this series. It would have made Carter more dangerous. It’s why Lebron needs a guy like Derrick Rose. However, Carter is capable of making big shots although he’s miles apart from Pierce at the defensive end. But you don’t need skills to play defense. Pierce himself admitted devouring a defense is much easier without LBJ in his shorts. It’s not in Carter’s DNA nor can it be found in Dirk’s.

    For sure Carter whiffed last night. The main reason why was the Celtic defense wouldn’t allow him in the paint and forced him into off balanced jumpers. The Magic cannot win this series when Reddick, by default, becomes their second option.

  • http://CelticsHub.com Zach Lowe

    @PErry: I remember that game. I’ll try to look it up later today. He’s never really been a great clutch foul shooter, as I say in there. It got to the point where I mentally signed up for 1-of-2 every time he got to the line late in a big-game situation.

    But the fact is that over his career PP has found a way to contribute under pressure Carter has seldom faced.

  • Kevin

    Vince reminded me of Ara Parseghian’s line in ‘Rudy’. “You just summed up your entire sorry career here in one sentence! “. Vince summed up his sorry career with the goofy smile when the shot missed (but got close) on the foul, the ensuing missed free throws, and the fake melodrama on the sideline after he missed them.

  • http://www.livefromapt.blogspot.com w2

    Honestly, I thought Pierce came off the bench down the stretch about a minute early last night. TA had Vince locked down and Paul came in and struggled to get his defensive rhythm back. It did not hurt much because the help was there and Paul is uber clutch.

  • Eric

    @Zach and @Perry: You guys are probably thinking of game 4 against the Nets in the 2002 ECF, the next game after the amazing fourth-quarter comeback. I can’t remember the exact score, but he had a chance to put them up and take a 3-1 lead but he clanged both free throws.

  • urbeltic

    The other thing that made this a great game for pierce is that he played the last 3 minutes or so with 5 fouls…I thought for sure we was going to foul out with 2 minutes left. PP the lock down defender…well sort of!!

  • Perry

    @Zach

    Roger that. I agree completely.

  • DeVelaine

    Kinda snuck up on me, but KG turns 34 today. And I don’t recall anyone mentioning that last night during the game. Then again, I wasn’t reading the comments on here, so I don’t know if that did pop up once or twice.

  • The Blind

    It’s not fair to compare Carter with Pierce. Their path so different. Pierce fight for years and got nothing until Allen and KG came in. All were not on title contender team until 2008.

    Carter ain’t that lucky, he got no Allen, no KG. And he wasn’t in any title contender team until this year. First trip to the Con Final.

    Give him a break.

  • Chris O.

    @DeVelainte – KG could be effective into his late 30s if he keeps healing from his knee. It would be beautiful for him to reach 30+ K points and have longevity to his career.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    You know where Pierce got without KG and Allen? He carried a bad team to the conference finals in 2002.

    Carter’s best Nets teams flamed out completely.

  • Eric

    Pierce also beat a vastly more talented Indiana team twice in the playoffs; to say he did it single-handedly would be an exaggeration, but not by much. None of Carter’s teams have beaten a better team and have a few times been beaten by inferior teams.

  • dogg

    i have neva had anything aginst tha celtics, but the past few years i have grown a hate for their so-called star paul pierce. he is a 5 star faggot,, thats only good move is the fukin flop. seems like every since vlade left, paul has taken over his spot as the worlds biggest flopping bitch. in that sence, he needs a fukin cookie and a grammy. but guess what, try that shit on my world champ Lakers and u gon get hit right in the mouth!

  • Jay P

    @dogg

    Did you graduate high school? Junior high? Elementary?

    Seems very doubtful, that’s probably the most ignorant comment I’ve ever seen left on this site.

    I’d respond to it, but I’d have to lower my IQ to respond in a manner which you’d even understand, so it’s not worth it.

    So let me just end with a fuck you, and have a nice day.

  • Still enjoying #17

    @dogg

    maybe you don’t remember what happens when the Lakers get hit in the mouth. Look no further than 2008 Finals, potna.

  • mitch

    @ dogg

    131-92 must have made you a bitter person

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