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."