Mickael Pietrus finally broke out of his long shooting slump last night, canning two critical triples as Boston mounted its (ultimately futile) fourth-quarter comeback. But afterward, he unveiled a troubling admission:
He still experiences fear stemming from a concussion earlier this season. (MetroWest Daily News)
“Playing Philly reminds me a lot of my injury,” he said. “Every time I drive to the basket, I have that feeling I’m going to get hurt again. That’s why I’m always trying not to drive to the basket. Hopefully, it’s going to be better next year. But right now I’m still afraid of falling again.”
When Pietrus caught a pass late in the first quarter and almost instantly jetted straight to the hoop, the 76ers defense seemed as surprised as I was. They didn’t give much of an effort to contest Pietrus’ layup, which makes at least a little sense because they were probably stunned to see him taking several sharp steps inside the three-point line. They mostly parted ways as Pietrus finished a rare layup.
Despite a number of Celtics fans shouting for Pietrus to do more attacking of the hoop (and they’re probably right), he hasn’t been much of a slasher in years. His shot selection this season (when it felt like he treated the arc like an electric fence) is actually very similar to what is has been for the past three seasons, per HoopData. Pietrus is also dealing with a swollen knee, another factor keeping him from driving to the hoop.
The takeaway from all of this: Hope Pietrus gets hot from outside, because almost all of his offense will come from the land of threes.
Not that he’s in the lineup for his scoring.
“To be honest, I haven’t focused on the offense at all,” he said. “In the playoffs, it’s time for our legends. I respect that. They need the ball in their hands to make the team win the basketball game.
“I’m just looking to do what I’ve been doing — defense and rebounding. The second unit is not going to play much. So when we come in we should bring the energy.”
Energy is nice. So is defense. But the Celtics’ offense has been bad throughout most of the playoffs, just like it was during the regular season. Pietrus’ rare scoring outbursts are a bonus, yes, but they’re a welcome one.