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Paul Pierce 'knew all along' that Deron Williams had it in him

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this month, in an interview with ESPN, Paul Pierce spoke candidly of his time in Brooklyn as a member of the Nets and took a bit of a shot at the team's star point guard, Deron WilliamsPierce told Jackie MacMullen, "Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate, but I felt once we got there, that's not what he wanted to be. He just didn't want that."

He also went on to call out the team's attitude, specifically the veterans like Williams and Joe Johnson, and said that it was him and Kevin Garnett who did all the "pushing," not Williams and the "primary guys."

Last night, however, Deron Williams went on a tear, on the basketball court, scoring 35 points and leading the Nets over the Hawks in Game 4 of their first-round series. It was arguably his most meaningful performance as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

On Tuesday, Pierce was asked about Williams' performance as it pertained to his previous comments and, well, this is what he had to say:

"I think it's great. I know that's what he's capable of. That's probably why I said a lot of things I said because I know what Deron Williams is capable of. The player you saw last night, that's what you expect out of him. It's all a mind-set. You got to go out there and will yourself every night, I believe."

A tip of the cap by Pierce, saying that he knew what Williams was capable of, which makes sense in his initial comments. Does the criticism still stand? It's not likely one game will change Pierce's perspective, but should Williams continue to play at this level and lead the Nets over the top-seeded Hawks, who knows.

Interestingly enough, if the Nets do make it past the Hawks in the first round they will play Pierce and the Wizards in the second round. One game at a time, though, as the Nets need to win two of the next three against the Hawks to advance.