Paul Pierce isolates near the top of the key with time winding down. He takes one step, one dribble, towards the basket. He makes contact with a defender, and then his next step is away from the hoop, away from the defender, as he makes space to launch a shot that inevitably finds the bottom of the hoop.
Only this time, it didn't fall, and as Pierce's jumper missed its mark the Celtics' 11-game winning streak crumbled. But Philadelphia knows Pierce doesn't always miss that shot, especially with the game clock winding down.
Via the Philadelphia Inquirer:
"Truthfully?" said Sixers guard Willie Green of Pierce's last shot. "My heart sank a little bit. And I just froze. I don't know if there was, what, a couple of seconds left? But it felt like a minute. Thank God he missed it."Whether or not Pierce's miss was a break for Philly, they deserved to win the game. On a night when it first looked like the Celtics would open up a huge lead and never turn back, Philly scrapped, clawed and fought its way back into the lead, outworking the Celtics every step of the way.
"Pierce?" said Sixers coach Eddie Jordan was asked about that last shot. "I even thought Ray Allen's shot was going to go: fallaway, probably bank shot. . . . That's [Pierce's] pet move, and that's his comfortable spot on the floor, right off the elbow. So he got where he wanted to go. But we had a break."
So while the last miss might have been a break for the 76ers, they earned it. For the most part, for last night at least, Philadelphia made their own breaks.