It really looks like Richardson was just coming over to check on Pierce. Garnett first blocks out Q-Rich and then delivers a back-elbow to the jaw for seemingly no reason.
Everyone raves about how Garnett is intense and an "emotional leader," which is fine, but when does it become just for show? Not only was the elbow unprovoked but Garnett will likely see a suspension for at least one game of this continuing series. As we've seen, Boston is a much different team without Garnett on the floor.
Richardson later admitted that he thought Pierce was exaggerating his injury and thought, "Is he taking a break like he does so many times?" You may remember two years ago when Pierce was taken off the court weeping and in a wheelchair after injuring his knee, then returned as if he were totally fine.
Garnett, to his credit, said following the game that he just lost his composure and was ready for an impending suspension.
Perhaps it was Dwyane Wade who summed it up best when he said, "We're in the playoffs, that's all. Just a couple of basketball players acting tough."