Rajon Rondo's suspended. Ray Allen might not play. The Boston Celtics have to turn somewhere for big minutes and a bigger performance in the backcourt in Tuesday night's Game 2 ... and according to Paul Flannery of WEEI.com, coach Doc Rivers has turned to Mickael Pietrus, inserting the nine-year veteran into the starting lineup alongside second-year pro Avery Bradley.
Pietrus has plenty of playoff experience, having made postseason appearances as a member of the 2007 Golden State Warriors and a contributor on the '08-'09 and '09-'10 Orlando Magic, but Game 2 — his 51st career playoff game — will be his first career second-season start.
According to Flannery, though, Pietrus plans to stay the course as he moves to the starting five. He doesn't want to change his approach, on the court or in the kitchen:
As for Pietrus he said he would play his game and wouldn't necessarily look to score more just because he's in the starting lineup.
"It's depending on how the game goes," Pietrus said. "I don't project myself, say I have to bring more points for the team. I just have to be Mickael Pietrus, bring the all-around game: rebounding, defense. I'm not putting any extra pressure on myself. Yeah, I have to score. Yeah, I have to eat some chicken. Yeah, I have to eat some beef. At the end of the day it's basketball."
I think we can all agree that making sure you get some chicken and some beef before playing is very important. If you go out there on an empty stomach, you'll get very exhausted very quickly, and that's definitely not going to be helpful on a night where Rivers will likely need major minutes out of the guard from Guadeloupe.
This, of course, is exactly what Celtics fans would want to hear from Pietrus, who has never been known as a particularly strong scoring option and whose primary avenues of contribution to an NBA rotation have always been sticky on-ball defense, solid per-minute rebounding for a wing player and a solid 3-point stroke (although he hit an unspectacular 33.5 percent of his long-range tries this year).
If Pietrus can stay within himself, make life more difficult on Joe Johnson for somewhere between 25 and 30 minutes Tuesday night, and knock down a corner three or two (he connected on 42 percent of those tries during the season, according to NBA.com), that's all Rivers can ask for. And if the rest of the Celtics improve over a mostly horrid offensive performance in Game 1, it could be enough to help Boston salvage a split on the road and take home-court advantage as they head back to the TD Garden for Game 3.
A word to the wise, though: Don't go too hard on the pregame chicken and beef. Just ask Alvin Gentry or, even better, new Celtics teammate Sean Williams. You don't want to be the next contestant on that bench-pukin' screen.
Game 2 tips Tuesday night at the Highlight Factory at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.