SPORTS

Raptors coach Dwane Casey says Pierce's "it" comment was calculated

04/17/2015 05:47 EDT | Updated 07/04/2015 12:59 EDT
TORONTO - Paul Pierce is no dummy, says Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey.

Less than 24 hours before the Raptors tipped off their opening-round playoff series against Pierce and the Washington Wizards, talk still swirled around the sly veteran's verbal shot at Toronto.

Casey called it "very calculated."

"He's been there, he knows what he's doing, he's experienced . . . that's why you don't fall for it. He's no fool," Casey said with a knowing smile. "He understands exactly what he's saying, how he's saying it and he's a good guy.

"That's what leadership does. Try to get under the skin."

Pierce played Raptor killer in last year's playoffs when he blocked Kyle Lowry's shot at the buzzer of Game 7 to clinch the series for the Brooklyn Nets. Earlier this week, he told ESPN.com he's not worried about the Raptors because they don't have "it."

DeMar DeRozan said he's not bothered by the trash talking.

"Yeah, I mean it's cool. It just makes it interesting. See, he got you asking me questions about him so obviously he's doing something right," DeRozan said, laughing.

DeRozan, who at 25 is 12 years Pierce's junior, has watched the veteran Wizard forward since he was a kid.

"I grew up watching him with Kansas. He's from L.A. (also) so he's one of those players — me being a young L.A. dude — that you look up to," DeRozan said. "So it's definitely cool to be competing with him these years that I've been in the league.

"I've got nothing but the utmost respect for him."

Pierce is averaging season lows in minutes — 26.2 — and points — 11.9. But his veteran leadership can't be underestimated. He's made a whopping 148 playoff appearances. The Raptors' entire starting lineup combined has 59.

"He's still a very capable player," Casey said. "Can put the ball on the floor. He's big, he's smart. Can still shoot the three, still got a lethal pump fake, knows how to get to the free throw line — it's all there. He's got all the speed and quickness around him.

"He's still Paul Pierce. Still one of the top players in the league. A Hall of Fame player."

MORE:cpSports