Matt Barnes Believes He Can Stop Paul Pierce

by May 21, 2010

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

Very little has gone right for the Orlando Magic during the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. Down 2-0, playing Game 3 in a very loud, hostile environment, you’d think that the team’s overall confidence would be somewhat shaken at this point.

And you’d be wrong. Wrong as far as Matt Barnes is concerned, anyway.

Barnes had a lot to say about Paul Pierce following team practice yesterday, and says he can slow Pierce down if given the opportunity.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

“I’d love to guard Pierce,” Barnes said. “I got the chance to guard him a little bit the last game and felt that I did a pretty good job. But he’s really rolling right now. So we need to slow him down somehow.” And while Barnes said he would do his job on whomever the coaches wanted him to guard, when asked if he could stop Pierce, he replied confidently. “I think that I can,” Barnes said. “You don’t really stop anybody; you just want to slow him down.’’

“My third foul in the third quarter, when I tried to beat him over the screen, he fell down like I threw him,” Barnes said, when asked about Pierce’s tendency to exaggerate contact. “It was ridiculous. But the refs called it, so it was a good play. It was a flop, 100 percent, and that’s how some guys like to play. But if the refs call it, it’s effective.”

As for Pierce’s talk of sweeping the Magic during a post-game interview on Tuesday, Barnes is staying away from getting into a verbal battle with an opponent, ever since he got in trouble for his Twitter war with Lamar Odom. “He can talk (stuff) right now because they’ve been backing it up,” Barnes said. “Whatever he’s said is granted because we’ve done nothing to stop it.”

Barnes has been bothered by back spasms throughout the series, but claims that he’s feeling healthy.

Healthy enough to take on Pierce, who has averaged 25 points, 7 boards, and is shooting 58% from the field through the first couple of games against Orlando.

Tomorrow night, the Magic need to help Matt Barnes — who will undoubtedly be booed lustily by the Celtic faithful — back up his tough talk, otherwise this thing will soon be over.