Factor No. 3 in the NBA Finals: Paul Pierce

Originally Published: June 5, 2008
ESPN.com

Paul PierceAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe Celtics will turn to Paul Pierce when they need a basket. So, how will the Lakers handle The Truth?
We asked 10 of our experts to rate the most important factors leading into the NBA Finals. Each expert had 100 points to apportion among five key factors. The rules stated no factor could be worth more than 50 points or less than 10 points. Each expert named a wild-card factor as well.

Finals Factors: No. 1 | No. 2 | No. 3 | No. 4 | No. 5 | Others | Wild cards | Results


THE BALLOTS

Click below to see the ballots of our 10 writers:

Henry Abbott, TrueHoop
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com
Chris Broussard, ESPN The Mag
Ric Bucher, ESPN The Mag
John Hollinger, ESPN.com
Tim Legler, ESPN
Jalen Rose, ESPN
Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com
Marc Stein, ESPN.com
David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.

Factor No. 3: Paul Pierce (103 points)

Tim Legler (28 points): Pierce represents the single biggest matchup problem in this series. The Lakers just do not have a wing player good enough defensively or big enough to contain him.

If he demonstrates a scorer's mentality, Pierce can dominate this series.

Chris Broussard (25 points): You know Kevin Garnett is going to be solid and give about 20 and 10 nightly. You also know that Kobe's going to be great and get at least 28 ppg, if not more. Pierce has to be able to offset (as much as possible) what Kobe does. He's a matchup nightmare for L.A., and he's going to have to capitalize on it.

Jalen Rose (20 points): A prolific scorer and Inglewood native, Pierce was a Lakers fan growing up and will be a matchup nightmare.

Chris Sheridan (20 points): He has a history of playing well back in his hometown, and his Game 7 performance against LeBron and the Cavs was one of the defining moments of his career.

If he plays with the right mix of maturity and emotion, he's nearly as dangerous as Kobe.

Marc Stein (10 points): The Lakers face almost as many question marks about how they're going to guard Pierce as the Celts face Kobe-wise. Pierce has to be huge all series for Boston to score an upset … although I suspect we'll see Kobe sliding onto Pierce in fourth quarters if PP is slicing them up.

Next: Factor No. 4