BOSTON -- When Mickael Pietrus joined the Boston Celtics this season, he quickly made a splash with his three-point shooting and instant offense.
But after struggling with his shot during the postseason (his scoring average is down from 6.9 points per game in the regular season to 3.2 during the playoffs), the swingman has adjusted his game to fit the needs of the team. In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday night, it was playing tough defense against the Miami Heat that helped the Celtics get a critical 93-91 overtime win.
Doc (Rivers) said this before the playoffs started -- When what you do isnt working, what can you bring to the team to help the team? said Keyon Dooling. His (Pietrus) defense was amazing tonight. His offensive rebounds were huge for us. There are ways you can contribute without scoring.
Pietrus defended LeBron James at the end of regulation -- I try to play tough because you have to respect the jersey youre playing for, he said -- and came up with big plays in overtime after Paul Pierce fouled out. In fact, Pietrus was on the receiving end of LeBron James' charge, his sixth foul of the game with just under two minutes to play in overtime.
Pietrus had grabbed six offensive rebounds during the playoffs heading into Game 4. The Celtics led 92-91 with 1:31 left in overtime when Ray Allen missed a three-point shot. Pietrus snuck in for a key offensive rebound and, after Kevin Garnett missed another trey 26 seconds later, Pietrus once again snagged the loose ball.
Rather than making an impact with his offense (he was scoreless in Game 4), he made the necessary adjustments to help the Celtics get the W and even the series at 2-2.
The last two (rebounds) were huge, said Pietrus. Sometimes thats what it takes to win basketball games. You can always count on me if you want to win games. Im going to play hard -- thats what I did for my team tonight. My main focus is to go to Miami now and try to get another win.
The Celtics will travel to Miami on Monday and play Game 5 against the Heat on Tuesday night.