With the Los Angeles Clippers being eliminated in Game 7 at home by the Utah Jazz on Sunday, it marks the end of the career of lock first-ballot Hall of Famer Paul Pierce. The long-time Celtic wasn't much of a factor in the series at age 39 and had six points in his finale. Pierce finishes with career averages of 19.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He was the NBA Finals MVP during the Celtics' championship season in 2008 and made the All-Star team 10 times. Somehow Pierce lasted until the 10th pick of the 1998 NBA Draft. Some guys that went ahead of him: Michael Olowokandi (No. 1 to Clippers), Raef LaFrentz (No. 3 to Nuggets) and Robert Traylor (No. 6 to Dallas but traded to Milwaukee). Pierce isn't the best player from that draft, however. That would be Dirk Nowitzki, who was picked ninth by the Bucks and traded to Dallas for Traylor. Vince Carter also went No. 5 that year to Golden State before being traded to Toronto. Current Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was the No. 23 pick by Denver. Here's a look at Tuesday's NBA playoff action.
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Game 2: Wizards at Celtics ( -5, 218.5 )
Tip at 8 p.m. ET on TNT. Boston won its fifth straight game by taking the series opener on Sunday, 123-111, rallying from an early 17-point hole. Isaiah Thomas had one of his front teeth knocked out, but he's a hockey player and didn't much let it bother him on the way to 33 points on 11-for-23 shooting. His teammates after the game said he should leave it out the rest of the playoffs because it makes Thomas look tough. Alas, Thomas said he hoped to have a dentist reattach the tooth as soon as possible. I guess he doesn't wear a mouthpiece. Pretty impressive game for Thomas not just because of that but also due to the fact he didn't arrive back in Boston from his sister's funeral in Tacoma, Wash., until 4 a.m. Sunday. Jae Crowder added 24 points and Al Horford 21 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
The Wizards have no shot to win this series if Thomas is the best guard on the court over John Wall or Bradley Beal. Those two were OK in the opener in combining to shoot 18-for-39 for 47 points but a combined rating of minus-12. The turning point in the game might have been when starting forward Markieff Morris sprained his left ankle with 7:18 remaining in the second quarter. He wasn't able to return. Morris finished with five points on 2-for-7 shooting and three rebounds. The Wizards, who have a terrible bench, tried going small with Kelly Oubre Jr. joining the starters to open the third quarter and Boston outscored Washington 36-16 in the frame. Morris says he will play in Game 2 but Coach Scott Brooks isn't so sure. He's basically the only stretch 4 the Wizards have and averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds in the regular season, shooting 45.7 percent and 36.2 percent from 3-point range.
Key trends: The home team is 5-0 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" is 7-3 in the past 10 in Boston.
Early lean: Celtics and over.
Game 1: Jazz at Warriors (-13, 208)
A 10:30 p.m. ET start on TNT. The Warriors are -3000 on the BetOnline series line with the Jazz at +1500. I'm a bit surprised to see a total this high as the Warriors were No. 2 in the NBA during the regular season in defensive efficiency (101.1 points per 100 possessions) and Utah third (102.7). They each have a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in the Warriors' Draymond Green and Jazz's Rudy Gobert. You could argue the rest vs. rust deal with the Warriors as they have been off since last Monday when they swept out Portland. The Warriors were largely without reserves Shaun Livingston (hand, finger) and Matt Barnes (ankle) in the first round. Barnes is probable for Game 1 and Livingston is questionable. As of this writing, it doesn't appear that Warriors coach Steve Kerr will be able to return from his illness for Game 1.
Utah ousted the Clippers in Los Angeles in Game 7 on Sunday, 104-91. I believe the Warriors would have rather played the Clippers because they destroyed them during the regular season and are without Blake Griffin. Plus the one potential weakness for the Warriors is a lack of size, and the Jazz have plenty of that led by Gobert. The Warriors took three of four regular-season meetings, but Utah won the most recent one to end Golden State's 14-game winning streak. I take little from any of those games as at least one key player was out for Utah in all of them. That loss was when the Warriors already had clinched the West's top seed and had nothing to play for - they rested Klay Thompson in it. In the regular season, the Warriors held the Jazz to just 94.0 points per 100 possessions, Utah's lowest mark against any Western Conference opponent.
Key trends: Utah is 5-0 ATS in its past five road games. The Warriors are 2-6 ATS in their past eight playing on three or more days of rest. The under is 13-3-1 in the past 17 meetings in Golden State.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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