- Chris Forsberg, Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce expressed remorse Monday for letting his teammates down by getting ejected in the fourth quarter of Sunday's Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat in an Eastern Conference semifinal series.
A league official indicated that there would be no further punishment against Pierce for his actions, ensuring his presence in Tuesday's Game 2.
"I was more disappointed in letting my teammates down," Pierce said Monday on the campus of the University of Miami while addressing reporters for the first time since earning two double technicals in a span of 59 seconds, resulting in his automatic ejection with seven minutes remaining in Sunday's 99-90 loss. "That's the first thing I said when I went to the locker room. When you put yourself in a situation that you can control and it hurts your team, that's what I was most upset about, and I can't do that. I'm too important to this team to be putting myself in those situations."
Pierce mentioned multiple times that he should have done a better job, "keeping my composure." But he remained clearly agitated that it escalated to ejection and vented about the lack of potential flagrant foul calls that precipitated both of his double technicals.
Pierce got Miami's James Jones in the air with a pump-fake and, to prevent a shot attempt, Jones came down hard around Pierce's neck. Pierce took umbrage and smushed his face angrily against Jones after the whistle, earning both players technical fouls.
Just 59 seconds later, Pierce drew a foul call on Dwyane Wade when Miami's star guard plowed into a screen that Pierce set trying to free Ray Allen in the offensive end. Pierce jawed at Wade and referee Ed Malloy assigned another set of technicals while signaling for Pierce's ejection.
"I probably overreacted," said Pierce. "I thought I was fouled excessively on both plays actually. I thought there should have been a flagrant on both [Jones and Wade], but it's up to me to keep my composure."
While addressing the media, Pierce was still awaiting word from the league about whether there would be any further punishment for his actions. His confrontation with Jones could have been viewed as a head-butt, which had potential to lead to a suspension. But the league did not penalize him further.
The NBA also rescinded Jermaine O'Neal's flagrant foul during the third quarter, downgrading it to a personal foul.
Jones had his technical -- the one involving Pierce -- during the fourth quarter rescinded, too. He was, however, charged with a flagrant foul, penalty one.
Pierce admitted he was surprised to simply be shown the gate Sunday.
"I was surprised at getting kicked out, yeah, I was," said Pierce. "I didn't think what I did warranted ejection. But, you know, sometimes a player gets caught in the hype of the game; sometimes the refs do, too. [Malloy] reacted the way he felt and that's what it was."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he didn't single Pierce out when the team met Monday morning.
"I don't know if we need to talk to him -- we have -- but we talked to the team," said Rivers. "I didn't talk to Paul, I didn't seek Paul out to talk, I just didn't think we handled a lot of things well. Not only [the technical fouls], but just the way we played."
Pierce dismissed the notion that Sunday's ejection will provide additional inspiration for him on Tuesday.
"I don't need [any] motivation," said Pierce. "I don't need things to fire me up. I'm going to come out every game the same, regardless of what happens. I'm going to be ready to play, especially because of the fact that we lost. We're trying to get back. Even if we had won, I approach each and every game the same. I have a common goal, just like the rest of my teammates and that's to win a championship, and I'm trying to do whatever I can to make that happen, and that's the only incentive I need every time I suit up."
Rivers also commented on Shaquille O'Neal's status for Tuesday's Game 2, saying that O'Neal's ability to play Tuesday likely rests on his soreness level after Monday's activity.
"That's the whole key, whatever we do today, if his body doesn't react well, you just can't play him," said Rivers. "I'm not going to take that risk for him."
But if O'Neal's body does react well to Monday's activity, and if the Celtics decide to forego the three offdays of rest that await before Saturday's Game 3, the 39-year-old center could very well be back on the floor Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena.
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.
Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce expressed remorse Monday for letting his teammates down by getting ejected in the fourth quarter of Sunday's Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat in an Eastern Conference semifinal series.