TORONTO - Three days after Paul Pierce's late dramatics lifted the Nets to a Game 1 victory over the Raptors, his performance still was a topic of questions and answers at the team's Tuesday morning shootaround at Air Canada Centre.
So, why are you so darn clutch, Paul?
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"I don't know," he said. "I think it's in the DNA. Everybody doesn't have it. Everybody's not born with it. Can't buy it at Costco or Walgreen's. It's in the DNA."
Well, then, how do you sustain it year to year?
"Like I said, it's in the DNA. It's in there. There's nothing I can do to let it go. I can't lose it, I can't break it. I mean, it's in there. It's in there."
Pierce said he still remembers his first clutch shot, a game-winner on the junior varsity team in ninth grade.
"That was just the beginning. Once you get a taste of it you enjoy those moments and it just grew and grew."
Teammate Kevin Garnett said this about Pierce: "A lot of players shy away from the moment. Some embellish it. He's one of them. I think Paul looks to obviously see himself in a different light and plays like it. I've seen him do it countless times. I've seen him look for the moment more and more.
"No sense running from it. He wants it and takes it on."
Pierce said part of his calm comes from experience, something younger players on the Nets and Raptors must go through their first time around.
"There is no other learning experience than actually being in the experience," he said. "You can't just watch the film or think a regular-season game is going to be like the playoffs. But they can watch the veterans' approach, how we prepare, and they can prepare themselves for it.
"A lot of guys are going to be nervous that first game. I was nervous my first-ever playoff game. But I think once you get the nervousness out after Game 1, guys get a little more comfortable with the surroundings and what's going on and they'll be able to fill in quite nicely."
Does Pierce remember feeling better after his first playoff game as a Celtic in 2002?
"Definitely. I felt a lot more comfortable," Pierce said. "You felt like you got all the jitterbugs out of you. The night before you can't sleep, that's all you're thinking about -- playing your first playoff game. Then once you got one under your belt you're like, 'I got a taste of it. I know what to expect the next game. I'm ready for it.' "
Pierce said he was not sure whether some young Raptors are intimidated by playing against future Hall of Famers such as him and Garnett. But Pierce recalled feeling that himself when he was younger.
"That's always going to affect you the first time," he said. "I'm not going to say I wasn't excited. I had a chance to play against Scottie Pippen. That was one of my favorite players in college. I was on the USA team playing against the  Dream Team and I was in awe.
"I just remember he guarded me and I just knew him as this great defender and I just probably passed the ball every time. You get caught up into that. You watch the guys on TV that you idolize and sometimes you get caught into that. But as you move on and play against them more and more I think you get more comfortable.
"I had to play against [Michael] Jordan just one year. Not the Bulls Jordan, thank God. So it wasn't, I think, as overwhelming as it probably would have been. But after the first time you get a taste of it and you get out of that state of awe-ness and just come to play the game of basketball."