Celtics

Pietrus: 'My heart is still for Boston'

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Pietrus: 'My heart is still for Boston'

ORLANDO, Fla. - Mickael Pietrus is well aware of Ray Allen's decision to sign with the Miami Heat instead of returning to the Boston Celtics for what would have been a sixth season.

In choosing the Heat, Allen signed for significantly less money than he would have received if he had returned to Boston.

Ironically, Pietrus may find himself in a similar dilemma if he returns to the team he desperately wants to play for - the Celtics.

Although the 30-year-old wing has yet to receive another offer, there's a good chance that another team will be willing to pony up more than the C's initial offer.

That leaves Pietrus to work towards Plan A an B.

Plan A being to return to Boston, while B would be to prepare as though that might not happen.

"It's up to Danny (Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations)," Pietrus told CSNNE.com in a phone interview on Saturday. "It's not up to me. You know my heart is still for Boston. I still want to be there and bring home Banner 18."

Allen's departure certainly makes that a more realistic possibility.

But the Celtics have their eyes set on a number of possible replacements for Allen, a pool of talent that includes but is not limited to, Pietrus.

"There will be a lot of good players looking for work this summer," Ainge said.

The C's are likely out of the price range for O.J. Mayo and Louis Wiliams who are both free agents and still in search of a team.

Boston does have a shot at landing players such as Courtney Lee, Josh Howard and former Celtic Gerald Green who are all free agents that should come at a more reasonable price than the Mayo's and Williams' of the world.

Meanwhile, Pietrus will be as patient as he can be, hoping that his agent Bill McCandless gets a call from Ainge offering a contract.

McCandless told CSNNE.com that he had a "very cordial" conversation with Ainge on Friday, and had plans to talk with other teams this weekend.

"Mickael wants to come back to Boston," McCandless said. "The Celtics know this; their fans know this. Everyone knows. It's just a matter of whether we can get a deal done to make that happen."

Like Allen, Pietrus underwent offseason surgery to correct an injury (right knee) that had been nagging him all season.

Pietrus had surgery previously on the same knee, but his recovery proved to be problematic which was in part why the Phoenix Suns bought him out and thus allowed him to join with the Celtics. In his lone season in Boston, Pietrus became an instant hit with his teammates and Celtics Nation in part by correctly predicting the C's would eventually make a strong playoff run despite a less-than-stellar start to the season.

They did just that, advancing all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before being eliminated in seven games by the Heat.

Although Pietrus' energy and as Doc Rivers puts it, "great spirit" were positives for the ball club, his struggles physically with the knee limited his impact at both ends of the floor.

"I was never 100 percent all year," Pietrus acknowledged. "Next couple weeks, I'll start running and start basketball and doing what I do in the summertime to get better. And with my knee better, I should be a decent player."

Having had surgery on his right knee on June 13, Pietrus is confident he can regain his pre-injury form and help the Celtics make another deep playoff run which he still believes will end with another title in Boston.

"The team goal - Banner 18 - that's what I'm about," Pietrus said. "That's what I want."

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

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Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

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Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

When it comes to the top backcourts in the NBA, you seldom hear about Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.

That may soon be changing if they have more games like the one they delivered on Saturday as Boston put together a solid second half to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks, 110-99.

Irving had a game-high 30 points which was his second game with at least 30 points scored – both against Atlanta.

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And Brown, who had a strong 22-point performance in Boston’s win over Golden State on Thursday, was even better against the Hawks in tallying a career-high 27 points.

We all know about Irving who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top guards.

But is Brown on the way?

One thing Brown won’t have to develop going forward is, confidence.

He has long maintained that he believes he’ll be among the best in the league. It’s just a matter of him performing at a high level at both ends of the floor, consistently.

“I’ve always had that confidence, I can play with the best in the world,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the win over Atlanta which extended Boston’s winning streak to 15 in a row. “It’s just a matter of coming out, doing it. My teammates found me tonight. We had a good team win tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

Back in his home state of Georgia, Jaylen Brown delivered another monster game for the Celtics by scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving

Irving had his most efficient game this season for the Celtics, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists.

Dennis Schroder

Atlanta’s best scorer delivering a strong 23-point, 9-assist performance for the Hawks.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He only had 14 points, but they all came in the third quarter and they included a few crowd-quieting dunks.

John Collins

He came into the league with the reputation of being a high motor player, and he has not disappointed. His hustle and energy led to him tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

Marcus Morris

When the offense struggled mightily in the first half, it was Morris’ scoring that kept them within striking distance. He finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

Kent Bazemore

He was Atlanta’s number two scoring option most of the night, and finished with 19 points.

 

DUDS

Boston’s first quarter defense

The Celtics can’t keep digging themselves these early holes, expecting they will turn it on and find a way to climb out of them. The Hawks led 35-20, fueled in large part by shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in addition to out-rebounding Boston 8-6.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE