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."

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

Thomas strains right groin, says he'll 'be fine for Wednesday'

The bumps and bruises continue to pile up for Isaiah Thomas, adding a new one to the group during Boston’s 107-106 loss at Houston. 
 
The 5-foot-9 guard said he strained his right groin in the second quarter, but added that the injury won’t force him to miss any games. 
 
“I’ll be alright,” Thomas told reporters after the loss. “I’ll get treatment. I’ll be fine for Wednesday (against Orlando).”
 
The injury appeared to have happened shortly after Houston’s Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer that put the Rockets ahead 55-45.
 
At the time it didn’t seem all that serious as Thomas, who had 20 points on the night, came down and drained a 3-pointer. 
 
But after the game, Thomas acknowledged his groin did bother him during the game in which he played 33-plus minutes. 
 
“A few drives I didn’t have the lift,” said Thomas, who finished with 20 points. “It is what it is. I’ll figure it out.”
 
Thomas, who played in all 82 regular season games last season in addition to each of Boston’s 21 games this season, has dealt with an assortment of injuries including but not limited to, a swollen middle finger injury on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
Thomas, an All-Star last season for the first time, has played at an elite level that should once again position him to be represent the Eastern Conference. 
 
Following Monday’s game, Thomas is averaging a career-high 26.0 points per game which ranks ninth in the NBA along with 6.1 assists. 

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

Smart: 'Can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game'

The fact that the James Harden of the Houston Rockets went to the free throw line 18 times which was more than the entire Celtics roster (12 free throw attempts total) certainly fired up conspiracy theorists among Celtics Nation. 
 
But what seemed to draw the most ire was what appeared to be a 3-pointer by Avery Bradley late in the fourth quarter that was initially called a long two-pointer. 
 
And after it was reviewed by the good folks in Secaucus, N.J., they allowed the ruling to stand because there wasn’t enough proof in the many replay angles for them to overturn the original call. 
 
The missed lay-ups by Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in the closing seconds stand out, obviously. 
 
But the 3-pointer that wasn’t a 3-pointer was one of the more talked-about topics in the Celtics locker room afterwards. 
 
“From the angle we saw, it was a three,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told reporters after the game. “We definitely thought it was.”
 
Said Jae Crowder: “I thought it was a three. Nothing we can do about it now.”
 
It was that kind of game for the Celtics, one in which plays that could go either way more often than not, went against them. 
 
And while Bradley’s questionable two-pointer certainly was a factor in the game’s outcome, as was the free throw discrepancy and the late-game misses, ultimately the blame for Monday’s loss falls upon the Celtics players who were still in position to win despite all those setbacks.

They simply didn't get it done, when it mattered.
 
Smart, who had 13 points off the Celtics bench, understands that fans like to blame the officials when a game ends like Monday’s loss to Houston. 
 
“Officials, they did their job,” Smart said. “You can’t blame the officials for the outcome of the game. We made some costly plays down the stretch. Give credit to the Rockets. They made plays and executed down the stretch.”