Pietrus joins the Celtics

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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.

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

WALTHAM, Mass. – When it comes to NBA standings, no Celtic pays closer attention to it than Isaiah Thomas.
 
But the 5-foot-9 All-Star is quick to say that while he’s aware of what’s happening with other teams record-wise, Thomas, like his teammates, isn’t obsessed with it, even with the Celtics (48-26) now in first place in the East following Cleveland’s loss at San Antonio on Monday.
 
“It’s a good feeling,” Thomas said. “It’s still not the end of the year; anything can happen. It’s a nice feeling to be the number one seed for once, but we just have to continue to control what we can control.”

The fact that Boston is even in position to finish with the best record in the East is amazing when you consider injuries and illnesses have forced them to use 13 different starting lineups this season.
 
And the preferred starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson has played together 31 times and posted an impressive 24-7 record.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been consistent in his message that while having the best record in the East is nice, he’s more consumed with the team continuing to improve.
 
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now,” Stevens said of being in first place. “The whole idea is to make progress, get better every day and stay in the moment. You do that if you’re in last place trying to build up or whether you’re in a position where you’re fighting for seeding. Ultimately, we’ve been able to grow and get a little bit better. But I still think we can play a lot better. That’s where my focus is.”
 
And the same holds true for his players. Thomas knows how unusual this season has been for the Celtics, who continue finding ways to win despite frequently being short-handed.
 
The latest example of that involves forward Jonas Jerebko, who is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee because of a sore left knee that limited him in Tuesday’s practice.
 
“It’s a long season. A lot of things can happen whether they be good or bad and we know that,” Thomas said. “We just try to withstand the storm we’ve had a few times this year, and continue to try and stay as positive as possible and we’ve done that. We’re in a good position right now. We just have to continue to take care of business.”
  
And that means steadily improving while piling up the wins, particularly against teams such as the Bucks (37-36), who are among a handful of teams that could potentially be Boston’s first-round opponent.
 
Milwaukee comes in having won 11 of its past 14 games.

“It makes the game that much more important,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “Just like the Miami game. We want to let the teams know now, they go up against us in the playoffs, it’s no mercy. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to bring it every single night. We’re going to play Celtics basketball every single night. Them knowing that, we can scare a lot of teams if we’re playing the right way.”

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics have spent most of this season playing short-handed and Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee will potentially be another one of those games.
 
Veteran forward Jonas Jerebko has a sore left knee and is considered questionable for the Bucks’ game.
 
“Jonas went through about half of [Tuesday’s] practice,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
 
Jerebko has missed two games this season due to illness.
 
Because of Milwaukee’s length at seemingly every position, Jerebko’s ability to play both forward positions will be something the Celtics will surely miss if he’s unable to play.
 
This season, Jerebko has appeared in 69 games while averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 35.0 percent on 3’s.