Pietrus Set To Debut; C's Working Hard

Pietrus Set To Make His Debut

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics may not have Marquis Daniels available for tomorrow night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, as he’s struggling with a cold, but that doesn’t mean they won’t still have a 6-foot-6 swingman to back up Paul Pierce.

Mickael Pietrus, who signed with Boston on Dec. 24, will make his debut in a Celtics jersey Wednesday night against the defending champs. And he’ll be able to do it in front of the home crowd.

The swingman could turn out to be an enormous pickup for the Celtics this season. With Daniels struggling both on the court and with his recent cold, there are minutes that are open for the taking. Pietrus is a proven veteran who will be able to snag up many of those minutes behind Pierce at small forward, and also behind Ray Allen at shooting guard.

Boston has practiced hard for two consecutive days and Pietrus has fully participated in both of those sessions. The reports from Doc Rivers regarding Pietrus’ play have been very encouraging.

“Actually, he had a sensational day,” Rivers said on Tuesday of Pietrus' performance. “He might have been one of our best players today.”

The newest Celtic seems to have made an impression on his captain, Paul Pierce, with his play over the past couple of days as well.

“Me and him had a chance to match up,” Pierce said, “and he’s really gonna bring another dimension for us coming off the bench as a guy who can defend two or three positions and knock down open shots.”

Pending any setbacks, Pietrus will not be under a minute restriction during his debut with the team tomorrow night.

NBA Teams Struggling with Execution

The Celtics have struggled offensively during their past two games, and a lot of that has to do with their execution. Boston isn’t the only team experiencing that issue, as scoring has been down around the league early in the season.

Without a full training camp, players are still searching for their timing and learning each other’s tendencies. As Doc Rivers pointed out today, his team isn’t even attempting to install its entire playbook. Instead, it's trying to perfect what has already been installed.

“One (new set was installed today), but not much,” said Rivers. “It’s funny, I think all teams will tell you offensively as far as sets, they’re way behind. I think they’ll also tell you that what they (already) have in they’re not running well. It at least gave us a chance to try to brush up on some of that stuff.”

One of the players who needed to brush up on everything is Pierce, who missed nearly all of training camp and only has a couple of practices under his belt. He said that his timing is slowly coming back, and he sees improvement with the team as a whole, too.

“We were able to clean up some things execution-wise, with our defense and offense,” Pierce said. “These are days we have to take advantage of, and we had a great two days.”

Celtics Not Making Excuses

Rivers was asked by a media member today about the notion that Friday night’s game, and particularly Pierce’s 3-for-17 shooting performance, was an anomaly and that the team won’t play so poorly again. The head coach was prompt in letting everyone know that he refuses to think that way.

“That’s what [the players] said. I don’t believe that,” Rivers said of that thought process. “I hope you’re right with that with Paul, but our play has to be better. I think right now that’s where we have to get this team, to stop thinking about, 'Well, if (Pierce never plays poorly)'... well, he did, and we lost.”

For his part, Pierce seemed to agree with that assessment. He joked that he’s already forgotten about his 3-for-17 performance from Friday night, but said that the Celtics are what their record indicates – a .500 basketball team.

“We know where we’re at. We’re at 4-4, and that shows that we’re just a .500 team and we’ve been inconsistent,” Pierce said. “That’s where we are right now until we get better.”

The inconsistencies exist at both ends of the floor, and that’s why Rivers has put his team through two demanding practices over the past two days. The good news for Boston is that no one is making excuses. They're instead choosing to work as hard as possible to correct their deficiencies.