Washington Wizards

This Date in NBA History (May 9): Paul Pierce called 'GAME', banked-in game-winner vs. Atlanta Hawks in 2015 Playoffs

On May 9th in 2015, Paul Pierce banked-in a game-winner at the buzzer in Game 3 of the Washington Wizards' Conference Semifinals series against the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks.

With Pierce's shot, the Wizards won Game 3 103-101, took a 2-1 series lead and retained home-court advantage. After the horn, Chris Broussard, then with ESPN, wrapped up the on-court interview by asking Pierce if he called bank. The former Celtic replied - "I called Game."

This was a much-needed win for the Wizards, having lost Game 2 by 16 points - the first time they suited up without John Wall, who was injured in Game 1 of this series and was forced to miss the next three games.

Other than the blowout Game 2 loss, this series was tightly contested. Five of the six games were decided by six points or lesser including the narrow 94-91 series-clinching Game 6 win for the Hawks.

Here's a side-by-side collage of Pierce's shot from different angles:

In his lone season with the Wizards (2014-15), Pierce averaged 11.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 73 regular-season games. More importantly, he became the team's big-shot veteran on a relatively young squad.

All through the short 2015 playoff run, he showcased his postseason experience by coming up big in the clutch for the Wizards:

  • In Game 1 of Round 1 vs. the fourth-seeded Toronto Raptors, Pierce led the Wizards to a 93-86 overtime win by single-handedly outscoring the Raptors 5-4 in the extra session.
  • In Game 3 of Round 1 vs. the Raptors, Pierce nailed a dagger 3-pointer that essentially clinched the game.
  • In Game 5 of the Conference Semifinals vs. the Hawks, if it wasn't for Al Horford's last-second game-winner, Pierce had nailed a clutch corner 3 that would have essentially been the game-winner

This shot in Game 3 was Pierce's seventh career game-winner at the buzzer and the second in the postseason. All of his previous six game-winners at the horn came as a member of the Boston Celtics.

Other notable events on May 9

  • In 2001, Allen Iverson scores 54 points (21-39 FGs; 3-5 3Ps; 9-9 FTs) in a 97-92 Game 2 win against the Toronto Raptors in their Eastern Conference Semifinals series.

Notable playoff eliminations on May 9

  • In 2010, the Phoenix Suns swept the San Antonio Spurs 4-0 in the Western Conference Semifinals. In the Spurs' 22 consecutive playoff appearances, they were swept just thrice (2001, 2010 & 2017) and this was the second of those three instances.
  • In 1993, as part of a five-game first-round series, the Suns bounced back from an 0-2 series deficit against the Los Angeles Lakers to eventually win the series 3-2 with a 112-104 Game 5 win.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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