The Brooklyn Nets season debut wasn’t just the team’s debut — it was ushering in a new NBA era, one with a new role for Nets forward Paul Pierce.
Prior to Wednesday night, Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce had played 45,768 NBA minutes in 1,238 NBA games. In every single one of those minutes, Pierce wore a Boston Celtics uniform, setting franchise records for three-point field goals, steals, and ranking second all-time in Celtics points behind John Havlicek.
Pierce may have looked different wearing black-and-white, but he was one of the team’s few bright spots in their opening night 98-94 loss at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Pierce finished with 17 points on just eight shots, hitting three threes and all four of his free throw attempts. He scored the team’s first six points of the night, hitting the team’s first field goal attempt of the season:
Pierce added four rebounds and two assists, committing just one turnover. He looked comfortable in his new role, spotting up and running late-clock offense. All five of his field goals were assisted on.
His one misstep of the night came late in the game: a contested 18-footer with 16 seconds left that could have tied the game at 93. The play started in Johnson’s hands, and acting coach Joe Prunty said there were “multiple options” out of the team’s set, and a step-back jumper for Pierce was one of them. When asked if he thought the shot was good, Pierce gave a flat response: “I think every shot I take is going in.”
Pierce later hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 97-94 with three seconds left, but it wasn’t enough on a night where the Nets sat Deron Williams, on a minutes restriction, for the entire fourth quarter.