first_imgPORTLAND, Ore. >> Paul Pierce had played in 159 playoff games, including a brief appearance in Game 1 of the Clippers’ series with Portland.Pierce played 10 minutes and 41 seconds in his first playoff game with the Clippers. He was the 11th man off the bench, and they were the fewest minutes he’d ever played in his playoff career.Things, though, were about to get tougher.In the Clippers’ Game 2 win, Pierce didn’t play. In Game 3, he played fewer than five minutes. After two games of futility, Portland’s high-powered backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum couldn’t be corralled. Forced to trap even more aggressively, the Clippers didn’t account for Mason Plumlee, who took control as the Trail Blazers’ primary distributor.It was total defensive failure, one the team had to relive Sunday during an extensive film session.“We’re not going to win a lot of games playing the way we played last night,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I really believe you can miss as many shots as you want and win the game if you play right, if you follow the game plan and you still have a chance to win. I thought last night, we were very fortunate to somehow be in that game.”There are tough truths you need to face in the playoffs, and if you don’t address them, the Clippers could be headed back to L.A. in a completely different position.And, this is where Pierce can step in.An expert on the psychology of a playoff series, Pierce’s knowledge flooded out once the gates were open.“You have to play with a sense of urgency. Every game has to be like that. You’ve got to understand that games on the road are going to be a lot tougher than games at home,” he said. “…The mental aspect has to change on the road. You can’t expect calls. You have to have urgency, You have to match their intensity. All those things have to go up on the road, especially after a loss.”Pierce continued to talk about mentality, especially headed into a pivotal Game 4.“You try to get a team down, get them desperate,” he said. And, then it’s the mental part of it. We have the talent. We know we can play. You can’t go into a game where you’re up 2-0 and think it’s going to be easy. You have to change that whole approach.“Now, it’s 2-1. This could be a whole new series if they beat us, so we have to come in with our backs against the wall. We want to create doubt in their heads, and when you go up 3-1, you create a lot of doubt.”And, Rivers doesn’t doubt that Pierce will still make an impact on the court.“I do. I really do,” Rivers said. “I don’t know when or where, but he will. I’m confident of that.”If Pierce was able to impart his wisdom and help the Clippers get mentally right, he might’ve already had one. “It’s difficult to not play when you’ve been playing your whole career,” Pierce said.But Pierce knows that this is the time of year where “difficult” can’t be an excuse. That’s why he hasn’t let that silence his voice.It’s why he’s still acting as a leader behind the scenes, readying himself for what could be a series-changing moment.Heading into Game 4 Monday, the Clippers are going to have to deal with difficulties, and like Pierce, they have to meet the challenges.After losing 96-88 Saturday night, the Clippers officially find themselves in a series.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img