Preparation pays dividends for Pietrus

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Preparation pays dividends for Pietrus

BOSTON If Mickael Pietrus seemed to do a better-than-average job defending Joe Johnson, there's a reason.

Everything Johnson did, Pietrus had game-planned against the night before.

"A good defender, you think about how you defend before, watching tape, you think about him all the time," Pietrus said. "That's what I do; play the game before the game starts. That's how I get myself ready before at home."

And that preparation paid off handsomely for the Celtics who were able to edge the Atlanta Hawks, 90-84, in overtime.

Johnson led all scorers with 29 points, but did so on 11-for-28 shooting.

It was yet another game in which Pietrus' defense shined a lot brighter than his shot-making, although he did have six points while making two of his 3-point attempts.

Pietrus' shooting touch was among the many things the Celtics really like about him, but it's his defense more than anything else, that gets him playing time.

"That's why we got him," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "The made shots are gravy with him. He's a terrific on-ball defender, and that's what he does. He has the ability to deny, get up into you. "

And for long stretches, Pietrus didn't get much help which makes his play defensively all the more impressive.

"Joe Johnson, there's not many better one-on-one offensive players in the league," Rivers said. "And he (Pietrus) had to guard him on an island a lot. And the fact that he was able to do a pretty good job allowed us not to have to help and rotate. And that's what they wanted us to do; that's why they had all their shooters out on the floor."

And while most will remember the job Pietrus did on Friday night in making life tough for Joe Johnson, he knows all too well that his success was about more than just his play; but the preparation that came before Friday night's tip-off.

"When I defend Joe, I defend him the night before the game," Pietrus said. "I don't wait until the game to think about him."

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

BOSTON -- When it comes to NBA awards and accolades, players in contention often try to play it cool when asked about whether they are deserving.
 
And then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, who gives a definitive response whenever the question about whether he should be an All-Star starter is raised.
 
We’ll find out later today if Thomas will in fact be named as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team when the East and West starters are announced. 
 
“It’s a little bit refreshing in that he is open about it,” Danny Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show this morning. “But every player wants to be acknowledged by their fan base, by other players in the league, coaches. You come into the league and as a young player you want to earn the respect of your peers and then you want to get paid and then you want to be an All-Star; maybe that’s the wrong order; and then nothing more important than winning.
 
Ainge added, “Isaiah is having a great year. He’s talked a lot about it. At some point in his career, he’ll talk about the most important thing and that’s winning championships.”
 
Ainge pointed to when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were all Celtics, there was no mistaking that winning came before anything else.
 
But where those guys were in their careers in terms of individual achievements and just age, were major factors in their focus being so deeply rooted in winning.
 
“Along the way they all want to win, but when you get to the point where Paul, Ray and KG were in their 30s, they didn’t care about any of that other stuff because they had it all, already,” Ainge said. “They had multiple All-Star games, they had big contracts, winning became the only thing that mattered.”
 
In other Celtics-related news, Ainge said that there’s no timetable for when Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will return to the floor. He has missed five of the last six games with the injury which includes last night’s loss to the New York Knicks which was a game in which the 6-foot-2 Bradley was a last-minute scratch from the lineup