Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri has responded to Paul Pierce’s comment about how the Raptors don’t have “it” to worry him ahead of their playoff series.
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The Washington Wizards veteran recently told ESPN that his team hadn’t done particularly well against Toronto this year, “but I don’t feel they have the ‘it’ that makes you worried”.
Naturally, that will make for bulletin board material for the Raptors ahead of the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series which gets underway this weekend, but Ujiri has learned from his mistakes from last season and refused to hit back with anything too spectacular.
The Raptors GM was fined $25,000 by the NBA last year after shouting “F*** Brooklyn!” during a fan rally outside the Air Canada Centre before Game 1 of their playoff series last season.
“I’ve been trying to figure that out [what Pierce means by ‘it’], and I honestly don’t have enough money to respond to him,” Ujiri said, ESPN reports.
“If I did have enough money, everybody knows exactly how I would respond to it and how the whole of Toronto would respond to it.”
Both DeMar DeRozan and coach Dwane Casey have also responded by questioning what he means by it, but it is generally considered that it means the playoff edge as Pierce came up clutch with some big plays in that series last year to drag the Brooklyn Nets to a 4-3 series win.
DeRozan had a warning for his rival though prior to the season final by insisting that he better hope that the Chicago Bulls dropped to the fourth seed to face Washington, but ultimately it didn’t work out that way and so the grudge match is set up immediately.
The experience from last season should help the Raptors this year as they continue to emerge as a threat in the East, while in contrast the Wizards haven’t looked entirely right over the past couple of months despite making an impressive start to the campaign.
However, it is a clean slate with the playoffs and so Toronto will now be keen to show Pierce that they do have ‘it’ whatever it may be, by eliminating the Wizards from the playoff picture and advancing to the Conference semi-finals.