Pietrus not concerned about shooting struggles


Pietrus not concerned about shooting struggles

BOSTON Long-ball hitters and big-shot makers are one in the same.

When they start to struggle, they begin to seek out that one hit, that one shot, that'll hopefully get their game back on track.

That's where Boston's Mickael Pietrus is right now.

Boston has a 1-0 series lead over Philadelphia in their second-round matchup, but it had little to do with Pietrus' shooting.

The 6-foot-6 veteran missed both of his 3-point shot attempts, each kissing every part of the rim before rolling out.

Unfortunately for Pietrus and the C's, it's been that kind of postseason for him this year.

In seven playoff games, Pietrus is shooting 23.5 percent from the field and 13.3 percent on threes while averaging 1.4 points per game.

Whether it's in the classroom or on the basketball court, a 1.4 average is simply not going to cut it.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers is well aware of Pietrus' shooting woes.

"I want him to keep shooting," Rivers said. "The only thing I did tell him (in Game 1 against Philadelphia), the one time, I said, 'You can drive, too.' I think right now he's searching for that one. You almost feel like he's Albert Pujols trying to hit his first home run, you know? You just start putting more stress on yourself than you probably have to."

As poorly as Pietrus has shot the ball, don't look for his playing time to be cut anytime soon.

"The one thing I will say about him is the other end hasn't changed," Rivers said. "He's still defending. And that's good; that's a mature player that he doesn't get so down on offense that he stops doing his job. His job for us is defense."

And it is a job that Pietrus has embraced, even with the reputation he earned in Orlando as a big-shot maker in the playoffs.

"Sometimes you are not going to make shots," Pietrus said. "But you always have to stay confident. Because fourth quarter, you never know the situation. The ball could be in your hands and you have to make shots. I been there before. You know already what I can do."

On top of struggling with his shot, Rivers revealed following Saturday's win that Pietrus has some swelling in his knee.

"I don't worry about that swelling," Pietrus said. "At the end of the day, I am going to fight for my team."

Pietrus added, "I been in the playoffs before. I know what it takes. The Boston Celtics, they never lead the league in scoring."

That's why his focus coming into the series was to provide as much defensive support as possible, and every now and then sprinkle in a basket or two.

"Play hard defense and do what you can to win basketball games," Pietrus said. "That's what we need from everybody."

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.