Pierce's metal-plated brace just for practice

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Pierce's metal-plated brace just for practice

PHILADELPHIA, PA Paul Pierce was rocking a new look at the Boston Celtics shoot-around this morning, one that he made clear was not a fashion statement or a look you're going to see tonight.

As the Celtics began to prepare for their morning shoot-around, Pierce sat in his locker stall with a bulky, metal-plated brace on his left knee.

Pierce was recently diagnosed with a sprained medial collateral ligament injury in his left knee.

But to paraphrase that great poet of our generation, Allen Iverson, the brace was strictly for practice man, not the game, we're talking about practice.

"When I first hurt it, it was in shoot-around," Pierce said. "So why have another accident in shoot-around?"

Still, Pierce is taking protective measures in games to ensure the injury doesn't get any worse due to the wear and tear he's sure to put on it on a nightly basis.

In games, Pierce has been wearing a softer, elastic brace on both knees which will likely continue tonight in Game 4.

"Throughout my last few years, y'all seen me wear two braces lots of times," Pierce said. "I just decided to wear them now."

Of greater concern for Pierce and the Celtics will be continuing to limit the dribble penetration of Philadelphia's perimeter players such as Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams.

"That's an emphasis; that's a key to their team," Pierce said. "You got penetrating guards like Lou Williams, (Andre) Iguodala, Holiday that's really the true key to their ball club. They don't really feed the post a lot. That's been our emphasis from the start of the series."

Pierce added, "the key is to help, recover, and try to guard your man one-on-one. We did a great job of that (in Game 3)."

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

BOSTON – There was a point in the fourth quarter when Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins was fouled trying to score which brought about an automatic, intense and angry scowl from the all-star center. 

He raised his hand as he were going to strike back at the potential assailant. 

And then he saw the man was Jae Crowder. 

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Cousins, who had a game-high 28 points, then went to the free throw line, incident-free. 

“I’m not one those other cats he be punking,” said Crowder with a grin.

That moment was one of many throughout Friday night’s game when Crowder made his presence felt when the game mattered most, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with whoever stood between him and helping the Celtics win – even Cousins. 

But as Crowder explained following Boston’s 97-92 win, that moment was about two physical players who have developed an on-the-floor rapport that speaks to their intensity and desire to win at all costs. 

“He’s going to bring the game to you; his physicality,” said Crowder who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. “He’s a very physical type of guy. If he senses you’re not physical at all, he’ll let you know. He’s a dog down there; he’s a bull. I love to go against a player like that. He’s going to give you his best shot each and every night. You either step up to the test or you get run over.” 

As soon as the two made eye contact, Crowder knew it was one of the many intimidation methods used by Cousins against opposing players. 

Crowder wasn’t having it. 

“That’s my guy; he’s my guy,” Crowder said of Cousins. “He plays a lot of tactics against a lot of other players. I’ve earned that respect with him. He knows I’m going to fight him just as hard as anybody else. We leave it on the court. He’s a good friend of mine. We’ve become friends, just playing ball, playing basketball the right way.”