Pietrus joins the Celtics


Pietrus joins the Celtics

NEW YORK Christmas has come a little early for the Boston Celtics, with the addition of a much-needed wing player to help fill the void left behind with Jeff Green (heart surgery) out for the season.

Mickael Pietrus, who negotiated a buyout with the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, cleared waivers Saturday night and as expected, signed on with the Boston Celtics.

"His skills as a perimeter defender and an outside shooter provide great versatility to the roster," Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge said in a statement released by the Celtics.

Prior to the C's announcing the deal, CSNNE.com reported that the 29-year-old had committed to the joining the Celtics.

His agent, Bill McCandless, told CSNNE.com shortly after Pietrus cleared Waivers Saturday night that he was in the process of finalizing a contract with the Celtics.

McCandless did not indicate the terms of the new deal, but the Celtics only have the veteran's minimum available.

That means the eight-year veteran would receive a pro-rated salary of about 1.2 million.

Pietrus choosing the Celtics is not that surprising.

Sources told CSNNE.com moments after the Suns released Pietrus on Thursday that the 6-foot-6 wing player was leaning "heavily" towards signing with the Celtics.

McCandless told CSNNE.com that night that Pietrus would "for sure" include the C's on his list of considerations.

It's unclear if Pietrus will be with the C's for Sunday's Christmas Day matchup against the New York Knicks. But barring an unexpected snafu, he'll most likely make his Celtics debut on Tuesday in Miami.

For the Celtics, the addition of Pietrus bodes well on a number of fronts.

After striking out in attempts to acquire Chris Paul and later David West, to beat out a handful of teams (New York and the Los Angeles Lakers among them) for a player of Pietrus' caliber provides proof that Boston may not be as bad a free agent destination as some might believe.

While the Celtics have what on paper appears to be a better bench than last season's second unit, they were sorely lacking an athletic wing player to compete defensively against the likes of Miami's LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or New York's Carmelo Anthony.

And by signing Pietrus for this season at the veteran's minimum, the C's will preserve significant salary cap space for this summer's free agent class.

In Boston, what players do in the regular season is much less important than what they accomplish in the playoffs.

Although Pietrus doesn't have a ton of postseason experience (49 games), he did make quite an impression on the Celtics during their playoff series in 2009 with the Orlando Magic.

In that series, Pietrus averaged 12.1 points while shooting 62.8 percent from the field and 34.4 percent on 3s.

However, it was his play in Games 6 and 7 - both Orlando wins - that stood out. In Game 6, he had 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting which included a pair of 3-pointers. And in the decisive Game 7, he was nearly flawless with 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting which included him making all three of his 3-pointers.

In the NBA Finals that year, the Magic were eliminated in five games by the Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged 9.8 points per game in the Finals, which included 18 points in Game 2 - the only game Orlando won in the series.

So it's clear that Pietrus has had moments in which he has delivered big-time performances in pressure-packed situations, the kind of performances the Celtics hope to see from the 29-year-old as they begin yet another journey to bring home Banner 18.

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

BOSTON -- On more than one occasion Monday night, the Boston Celtics were a discombobulated bunch with some players thinking they were running one play, while others were thinking the play called was something totally different.
You see that stuff in the preseason and to a certain extent in the regular season for a lot of teams. It is in those moments that we’re reminded that this Boston Celtics team is a work in progress on so many levels.
Because of that, we all need to hit the pause button when talking about them as a team inching closer towards Eastern Conference supremacy.
After the first month of the season, they have yet to show that they are going to be better than last season’s 48-win ball club.
The big problem a year ago was the offense bogging down and for the most part, not making shots. This year, it’s the team’s defense that has let them down on many nights.
And with that comes a sobering reminder this crew is good, but at best are maybe top-five in the East.
As a team on the rise, beating teams you’re not supposed to has to happen with some semblance of regularity.
There were only three teams on the Celtics’ docket this season thus far that they should have been beaten by without there being any argument: Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland.
They were beaten in all three, two of which (Golden State and Cleveland) had final scores that did not indicate the level of dominance they had over the Celtics.
The average margin of defeat in the three games was 9.3 points, but two of them (San Antonio and Golden State) were at the TD Garden, which is supposed to be the equalizer for upset-minded teams.
But in each game, Boston put up a decent fight only to fail to emerge victorious.
The struggles against the upper echelon teams of the NBA has nothing to do with not having a superstar or a great rebounder or any of the kazillion reasons/excuses offered up as to why they’re not better.
It’s hunger.
It’s effort.
It’s about being blinded by the internet clicks that tout them as one of the best teams in the East, and them not seeing the danger that comes with embracing all that patting on the back.
It makes you soft.
It makes you fat and happy.
And maybe most significant, it creates a false sense of arrival before you’ve left the tarmac.
That’s where the Boston Celtics are right now: a team that seems to have forgotten why they were the team nobody wanted to play last year.
It wasn’t that teams feared playing them. It was the fact that they knew playing the Celtics would be tough, and it would force them to play a lot closer to their full potential than they were used to if they wanted to win.
It was because everyone knew that to beat the Celtics, you don’t have a choice but to play hard because you damn well knew they would.
Not anymore.
They bring that toughness to the game in small doses, like an intra-venous drip full of hope and promise, providing just enough to life to keep their fans optimistic but not nearly enough to kill the noise of their haters and critics.
And while the season is still young, the Celtics need to start racking up some quality wins.
Right now, their most impressive win is a toss-up between beating Charlotte 104-98 on Oct. 29, or a 94-92 win at Detroit on Nov. 19.
Boston plays at Orlando on Wednesday, a team that’s likely to be back in the lottery again. But after that, they travel back to Boston where they’ll host Toronto -- a game that they desperately need to not only to pad their win total but also provide a much-needed boost of energy and confidence going forward.

The Celtics have to find that hunger, that collective desire that we’ve seen in the past which has propelled them to greater heights than we’ve seen thus far.
Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford… you can go down the roster and the mission for all of them has to be the same: play harder, for longer, and be smarter about it, because this team has too much collective talent to be just three games above .500.
At 12-9, Boston is third in the East and trail conference-leading Cleveland by three games for the best record in the conference. But then you look at the teams behind the Celtics and realize that they’re only two games out of having the ninth-best record in the East.
It speaks in part to the season still being in its infancy stage. But it’s also telling as to how Boston does not have a huge margin of error when it comes to losing winnable games.
And as we’ve seen thus far, the Celtics can play with any team in the NBA and hold their own.
But beating them is a totally different narrative that this squad has yet to write.