Boston Celtics

Pietrus breaks slump in big way; Shaq to thank?

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Pietrus breaks slump in big way; Shaq to thank?

MIAMI Shaquille O'Neal is no longer a member of the Boston Celtics, but he may have delivered an assist that could catapult the C's back into the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.

Boston's 94-90 Game 5 win over Miami was fueled in part by Mickael Pietrus' 13 points off the C's bench - that more than doubled his points total (six) in the first four games of this series.

Pietrus said a text message from O'Neal (now an NBA analyst for TNT) was one of the keys to his breakout performance.

"You know (Monday) I got a text from Shaq telling me keep believing and keep playing," Pietrus said. "So that's what I did."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has maintained for weeks that any scoring from Pietrus would be "gravy" just as long as he continued to provide solid play defensively against the Heat and their perimeter players such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

But at some point, you had to figure on Pietrus getting into some kind of rhythm offensively.

Tuesday was that night, as Pietrus connected on 5-of-8 shots which included a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter, each coming at a time when the C's were in dire need of a basket.

His first 3-pointer cut Miami's lead in half, to 78-75.

That play came moments after a spectacular block by Dwyane Wade of a Brandon Bass dunk attempt.

Rajon Rondo, who had 13 assists, wisely tapped the loose ball out to a wide open Pietrus for the 3-pointer.

"When Rondo took that rebound and kicked it out to me, I knew I had to take the shot and make it," Pietrus said. "So that's what I did."

And his second 3-pointer came about after a mad scramble. It put the Celtics ahead 85-83, with 2:11 to play.

Boston would not trail again for the rest of the night.

It was indeed a night of redemption for Pietrus, who came into the game having missed eight of his nine shots from the field in this series.

Despite his struggles shooting the ball, Rivers never hesitated to put him on the floor.

In fact, the deeper the C's got in the playoffs, the more confident Rivers became that Pietrus would find his shooting stroke and revert back to the big-shot maker that, when with Orlando in 2009, was pivotal in ending the Celtics' season.

"He's been down this road before," Rivers said. "He played with Orlando, made big shots, had big defensive stops, was very comfortable."

Pietrus hopes to continue delivering in a similar fashion in Thursday night's series-clinching game.

If he does, there will be plenty of folks Pietrus will surely thank - Shaquille O'Neal among them.

Brad Stevens: Isaiah Thomas will get scan on hip in September

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Brad Stevens: Isaiah Thomas will get scan on hip in September

Appearing on The Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix, Brad Stevens said that Isaiah Thomas’ hip will be evaluated by the Celtics in September before the team decides how to proceed. 

The C’s were unsure of whether Thomas would require surgery on his right hip, which ended his postseason early. He has gone the offseason without surgery, so the C’s will look at it next month. 

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September when he arrives back here out east, and from there we will know an exact timeline," Stevens said. "Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.

Added Stevens: “We want what’s best for Isaiah. We want to make sure that when he is ready to roll, which hopefully is sooner rather than later, that he is ready to roll at his highest level and for the longest possible time, obviously, right? So that’s a lot more important to me than anything else.” 

Stevens said that the uncertainty of not knowing whether Thomas would need surgery was challenging, but that his priority was the player. 

“I don’t know if it was unnerving because you can only control what you can control, but it’s a big deal for me because it’s a big deal to him,” he said. “Ultimately, obviously you want to go into every season 110 percent healthy and we’ll find out where we stand with everybody, but more so you want what’s best for him.”