By A.Sherrod Blakely
MIAMI The NBA is made up of emotional players playing emotional games. NBA playoff games can be especially heated.
At times, those emotions can wrap themselves around the most level-headed of players, and take them for a spin.
Paul Pierce knows this all too well.
The Boston Celtics' captain was tossed in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' 99-90 Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday after he was whistled for two technical fouls -- an automatic ejection.
At the time, Pierce didn't agree with the calls. Having had a night to sleep on it, Pierce's feelings haven't changed.
"Referees called what they saw," he said. "I have to do a better job of keeping my composure. That's it."
Pierce will get that opportunity on Tuesday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between Boston and Miami.
Keeping Pierce on the floor, especially down the stretch, will be critical to Boston's chances of splitting the first two games in Miami.
His first technical foul came after he was fouled by James Jones with 7:59 to play.
After the play, Pierce got into Jones' face which led to both players being whistled for a technical foul.
The league reviewed the play on Monday, and rescinded the technical foul against Jones. But they also changed the personal foul against Jones to a flagrant-1 penalty.
Less than a minute after the Jones incident, Pierce was trying to set a screen for Ray Allen when Dwyane Wade came barreling into him.
Pierce said something to Wade after Wade was whistled for a foul. It apparently was enough for official Ed Malloy to whistle Pierce for a second technical which is an automatic ejection.
On Monday, Pierce said he never received an explanation from Malloy on exactly why he was being tossed with seven minutes to play.
Lead official Danny Crawford explained to a pool reporter after the game what Pierce did to warrant the second technical foul.
"It's what we call a verbal taunt," Crawford said. "He directed profanity towards Wade. And in the rulebook, that is a verbal taunt. And it just so happened to be Pierce's second technical foul."
Whatever Pierce said, he didn't expect it would result in him being tossed out of the game.
"I was surprised in getting kicked out," Pierce said. "I didn't think what I did warranted ejection. Sometimes players get caught in the hype of the game. Sometimes the refs do, too."
Pierce does know one thing. A repeat meltdown on his part can do nothing but hurt the Celtics' chances of winning Game 2.
And while he's likely to have some thoughts about Game 1 prior to Tuesday's Game 2 tip-off, by no means does he plan to use that as added incentive to play well.
"I don't need no motivation," Pierce said. "I don't need that to fire me up for this. I have a common goal, just like the rest of my teammates, and that's to win a championship. I'm trying to do everything I can to make that happen."