Paul Pierce says the Clippers are the 'team to beat'

MANILA, Philippines – Former NBA star Paul Pierce places his bet on the Los Angeles Clippers as the "team to beat" in this wide-open 2019-2020 season. 

"Right now, I have to say the Clippers are the team to beat for the simple fact that yes you do have Kawhi (Leonard), who I consider the best player. You do have Paul George and you’ve got a championship coach in Doc Rivers," said Pierce, who last played for the Clippers, in an interview.  

After leading the Toronto Raptors to a breakthrough championship, NBA Finals MVP Leonard made his move back to his hometown in Los Angeles and surprisingly brought along Paul George to form a super duo in the Clippers. (READ: George won't make Clippers debut in October)

For Pierce, this is the first time in a while that the NBA season has become "unpredictable" as last year's defending champions Golden State Warriors surrendered their injury-marred Finals series to the Toronto Raptors. 

In the best-of-seven championship series, the Warriors lost superstar Kevin Durant to a ruptured achilles tendon in Game 5 while Klay Thompson sustained an ACL tear in the following game. 

Durant then left the Warriors to join Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets, but won't be seeing action until he fully recovers from th injury. 

"You know it’s great because now that you don’t have the dominance of the Golden State Warriors, we know that it’s going to be a different season because you don’t have that team going into the season saying: 'Hey, this team should or will most likely be in the Finals'," said the retired 10-time NBA All-Star, who spent 15 years with the Boston Celtics.

"Now you have a bunch of teams, players going to different locations, which is good for the NBA." 

Pierce, who won the 2008 NBA championship with the Celtics, is excited to see the on-court partnership of LeBron James and Anthony Davis of the Lakers, as well as the reunion of Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the Houston Rockets.

"There’s so much drama in the NBA. And the great thing about the NBA is that one player can change a franchise’s fortune," added Pierce.  –