Pietrus keeps mood light, could be X-factor for C's

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Pietrus keeps mood light, could be X-factor for C's

BOSTON It's rare to find Mickael Pietrus without a smile.

Shooting slump. Turnover. Concussion.

It doesn't matter.

He's one of those the glass-is-always-half-full kind of people.

Having someone provide what seems to be a never-ending supply of positivity is a good thing for the Boston Celtics.

But it is his talent more than anything else, that has both Pietrus and the C's excited about the postseason.

While much of the focus heading into their first round series against Atlanta will focus on the Big Four, there's always a player or two that emerges as an X-factor.

Pietrus is that kind of player.

He is a role player, for sure. But at times, that role has morphed from that of a back-up, to one in which he's taking center stage in leading his team to victory.

The C's saw that first-hand in 2009 when he played with Orlando and played a huge role in knocking off the C's in the playoffs.

Pietrus is hoping to make a similar impact as a member of the Celtics now.

"My role is to win championships," said Pietrus, who signed with the Celtics shortly after being waived by Phoenix. "That's why I'm here for, to win championship. That's why they call it the Celtics. They want to win championships. I want them to have one this year with me, so I'm very excited."

From the time he arrived in Boston, back when the Celtics were treading water as a .500 team, he talked of winning a title.

It never bothered him when folks thought he was just plain cuckoo for having such lofty goals for a team that no one was sure would even get to the playoffs at that point, let alone compete for a title.

"I know this team; I know they would be better, a lot better the second half of the season," Pietrus told CSNNE.com.

Indeed, the Celtics have been one of the NBA's top teams after the all-star break with Pietrus' play being instrumental in that success.

However, a concussion at Philadelphia on March 23 sidelined him for 11 games.

While disappointed that he would have to miss games, Pierce told CSNNE.com the next day that he felt fortunate that it was just a concussion and not a career-ending injury. Replays showed that on the play, Pietrus landed squarely on the base of his neck.

"Every time I see it, it just makes me cry," Pietrus told CSNNE.com shortly after the injury. "Because I know it could have been so much worse for me."

And moments later, in that seemingly always-cheerful voice, Pietrus said, "So, how are you doing?"

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has talked all season about as much as Pietrus has meant to the Celtics in terms of wins and losses, he has been just as valuable inside the locker room.

One moment, he's cracking jokes on teammates, the next he's cracking down defensively on an opposing perimeter player.

"He's a great spirit," Rivers said. "The guy likes basketball and he plays hard. I'll take that all day."

So will his teammates, some of whom liken his role with this C's team similar to the role played by James Posey during the Celtics' 2008 title run.

"He's got a lot of intangibles," C's Paul Pierce told CSNNE.com. "He really bothers people defensively, knocks down open 3s. He's like that glue guy, that in-between guy that you need to win a championship. You know what your stars are going to bring, but you need guys like him."

When the playoffs arrive, there's no telling what it will take for the Celtics to win a game, let alone a series.

They will need players to seemingly come out of nowhere with big games every now and then.

Pietrus has the ability to do that, when called upon.

"Mickael, he brings a love for the game and a consistent energy. That's crucial," said Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations. "He's also confident. He's not afraid of the big moment. That's good to have a guy like that on your bench, who's not afraid to come in and take the shot when it's there and not worry about the consequences, but just keep playing. Sometimes in playoff games, they get ugly, 36 percent shooting and you could still win if you stay involved in the game. That's what I like about him. He could miss four (shots) in a row, but he's taking the next one. In that game, that might be huge."

And while he's dealing with some soreness in his surgically repaired right knee, Pietrus says it won't have an affect on him gearing up for his first playoff run with the Celtics.

"In this locker (room)," Pietrus says, "they say, pain or regrets? I will rather get the pain."

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