Mickael Pietrus guarantees Celtics championship
|03.02.12 at 11:20 pm ET|
Even after their third straight victory, a 107-94 win over the visiting Nets, the Celtics (18-17) are ranked just seventh in the Eastern Conference and face a first-round playoff matchup against the Bulls if the standings remain the same. But that didn’t stop Mickael Pietrus from guaranteeing the franchise’s 18th NBA championship.
“I know that you guys say we’re older and all that stuff,” said Pietrus, pointing his finger at each camera surrounding his locker. “We’re going to win the championship, Ok?”
It’s difficult to tell just how serious the always playful Pietrus is when he makes that claim, as he’s made similar remarks at various times since first suiting up in Boston on Jan. 11.
Still, even in jest, there is an important nugget in Pietrus’ postgame vow: The Celtics are becoming a formidable team once again thanks to a return to Ubuntu of sorts. And that’s a welcome notion to anybody who watched this Celtics group suffer through a 1-7 stretch before the All-Star Game.
“I think the chemistry has been building since we played in OKC, even though we lost,” said Pietrus, who had 11 points (4-9 FG), five rebounds and two assists starting in place of Ray Allen (flu). “We fought a lot. I think the chemistry has started coming back, and we don’t want to let that go. Hopefully we’re going to keep it for the postseason and the playoffs — and win a championship.”
The Celtics trailed by as much as 36 in that road loss to the Thunder (29-7) just before the break, but they avoided completed embarrassment by closing the gap to six in the final minutes against the league’s best team. Pietrus was one of few Celtics who fought until the final whistle.
Same goes for Friday, when Pietrus led a fullcourt defensive pressure that wreaked havoc against the Nets. “I think it was all Mickael Pietrus,” said Rajon Rondo. “He played great for us and stepped it up. His play was contagious, and we all followed.”
“He’s better than I thought,” added Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “His energy is better. I’ve said it a hundred times, but his spirit is just unbelievable on the team, in the locker room, everywhere. It’s just infectious. It’s great.”
And it was Kevin Garnett — the man whose work ethic Pietrus cites as the reason he joined the Celtics — who called a team meeting following that loss (the team’s seventh in eight games). Since, the Celtics have started 3-0 after the All-Star Game, albeit wins over the Cavaliers, Bucks and Nets.
It may not have been title material, but Friday night’s blowout was a step in the right direction. And wouldn’t you know, the two players who enjoyed it the most — laughing and dancing their way through the infamous Gino video that plays in the fourth quarter of lopsided Garden wins — were none other than Pietrus and Garnett.