Paul Pierce: Ready for Ron Artest

by June 01, 2010

Pierce knows what awaits him starting on Thursday night, and is aware that Ron-Ron will do just about anything to try and slow him down. From ESPN: “We’ve been playing in the playoffs since he was in Indiana,’ said Pierce. ‘He’s a very competitive guy, he’s been on the All-Defense team, and we’ve matched up good over 10-11 years. He’s one of the best players I’ve played against and he takes pride in that — being able to lock down his opponent, night in and night out.’ The addition of Artest and his defense against Pierce is sure to be a focal point in this series given that it’s one of the few notable roster changes since Boston topped the Lakers in the 2008 Finals. Celtics coach Doc Rivers couldn’t help but shake his head at all the talk about how Artest doesn’t fit in Los Angeles. ‘I heard all year how Artest doesn’t fit, how he hasn’t fit,’ said Rivers. ‘I’m thinking, ‘He’s perfect.’ He’s allowed Kobe [Bryant] not to guard the best player every night. It’s clear, you can see it in Kobe’s offensive numbers. He’s as fresh as I’ve ever seen him and it’s due to Ron Artest. He’s bee perfect for them.’ Artest’s ability to check Pierce, and the fact that Pierce must guard Bryant at the other end, makes for a difficult challenge for Boston’s captain. ‘Ron’s the perfect complement to Kobe,’ said Pierce. ‘We saw [in 2008], Kobe was going around from me to Ray Allen to [Rajon] Rondo. He doesn’t have that pressure now. They’ve got a guy in Ron Artest who can do that. When you have that type of guy [like Artest, then Kobe] doesn’t have to think so hard on defense. He can control the game, make clutch shots, and will his team to win.’ But that doesn’t mean Pierce is worried about the challenge of guarding Bryant. ‘Well, I figure it’s like this: I’ve been through series with Wade, LeBron, and Vince Carter,’ said Pierce. ‘I’m not saying that those guys are on Kobe’s level. But mentally, physically, I’m ready for it.’ But that also means Pierce has to be ready for Artest both mentally and physically as well.”