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Game #9: 'Release The Pietrus!'

Pietrus swears like a sailor when confronted. But, since its all in French it just sounds like butterflies singing.
Pietrus swears like a sailor when confronted. But, since its all in French it just sounds like butterflies singing.

Dallas Mavericks (5-5) at Boston Celtics (4-4)
Time: 8:00PM EST, Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Venue: TD Garden
Game #'s: Regular Season Game #9 – Home Game #5
Officals: Bill Spooner, Mark Ayotte, Josh Tiven
The Line: The Celtics are 1-3 over the past two seasons against
the Mavs, and are currently coming off of 5 full days of rest.

Game Thread | Chat Room

'Air France'. 'Puma'. 'The French Michael Jordan'. 'The Guadeloupian Stefan Urquelle'. 'The Vengeful Sea Otter'.

Some of these are nicknames Mickaël Piétrus has earned over the years. His journeys have led him across the Atlantic Ocean, then back across the Atlantic Ocean (because Guadeloupe is actually in the Caribbean, and that's where he's from) to the NBA.

His career has led him to three other NBA squads before settling here on the Celtics for what will hopefully be an exciting and exhilarating fun ride for the whole family as the first swingman off the bench. What he lacks in star-power, he more than makes up for in defensive acumen, floor-spacing ability, and a refined pallet for crepes and escargot.

All kidding aside, Pietrus potentially fills a HUGE need for the Celtics, and that's one that has not been addressed since Tony Allen left on a midnight train for Georgia Memphis. He could potentially be a top tier caliber perimeter defender, with the strength and ability to defend stars in the league like Wade, Kobe, and LeBron (although likely not more than one at a time).

And tonight's game, much like ol' Mikey Pietrus's year this season, is about second chances, and redemption. The Celtics have been beaten the last two times they've faced those evil Dallas Maverickseses, and they've lost three of the last four. The Celtics, an aging team made up of superstars on the down-slope of their careers, are desperate to reinstitute themselves among the East's elite teams along with the Bulls, Heat, and Sixers (did I just say Sixers? Why did I just say Sixers?). Right now, at 4-4 with losses to the Hornets and Pacers to go with losses to the Knicks and Heat, the Celtics are desperate for a win against a respectable foe to build upon for the remainder of the season (there are only 57 games left!).

The Celtics don't necessarily 'need' a win tonight. Nobody 'needs' a win when there is still 85%+ of the season remaining. But they sure could use one, and the Mavericks, who have only beaten one +.500 team so far this year themselves, look to be prime pickins.

Probable starting lineups, Keys to the Game, and Key Matchups all brought to you by the Princess of Previews, FLCeltsFan!

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Delonte West

Shooting Guard
Ray Allen vs Vince Carter

Small Forward
Paul Pierce vs Shawn Marion

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett vs Dirk Nowitski

Jermaine O'Neal vs Brendan Haywood

Celtics Reserves
Brandon Bass
Mickael Pietrus
Chris Wilcox
Keyon Dooling
Sasha Pavlovic
Greg Stiemsma
Avery Bradley
E'Twaun Moore
JaJuan Johnson

Marquis Daniels (illness) questionable

Dallas Reserves
Rodrigue Beaubois
Brian Cardinal
Yi Jianlian
Dominique Jones
Ian Mahinmi
Lamar Odom
Jason Terry
Brandan Wright
Sean Williams

Jason Kidd (back) out

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Delonte West
These two have gone up against each other many times as teammates. Now, they face each other on opposite sides. I'm sure Delonte will be intent on proving to the Celtics that they made a mistake by not signing him this season so Rondo will have a fight on his hands.

Kevin Garnett vs Dirk Nowitski
This should be a great matchup. Dirk has the capability of taking over a game and KG will need to concentrate on his defense to keep him from having a big game. Both have been playing well and so this should be fun to watch. Hopefully KG comes to play and is able to keep Dirk from having a big night

Honorable Mention
Ray Allen vs Vince Carter
Ray has been the most consistent Celtic so far this season and has been averaging a mind boggling 63.4% from beyond the arc. Vince Carter has never been known for his defense and even less for fighting through screens on defense. Hopefully Ray will continue his hot streak in this game as well.

Keys to the Game
Rebound - Rebounding is so crucial to getting a win. When the Celtics put out the effort to grab rebounds, more often than not, they are going to get the win. In their last game, the Celtics allowed the Pacers to out-rebound them 47-36. The Celtics have to give a better effort on the boards if they want to win this one.

Defense - Defense is always crucial to getting a win. Defense wins games is not just a cliche, it is the truth. The Celtics must play tough team defense in this and every game. Against the Mavs, defense is especially crucial because they can put points on the board very quickly.

Bench Play - The bench has been inconsistent so far this season and has struggled to score at times. They should get a boost from the debut of Mickael Pietrus. Doc described his performance in practice as sensational. After their performance against the Pacers, the Celtics could use some sensational.

Score the Ball - The Celtics scored just 25 points in the first half of their last game. They have to run the offense and hit their shots. They can't expect to win if they shoot 39% and score 25 points in a half.

Rest vs Rust
The Mavs are playing in the second of back to back games while the Celtics have had 4 days off. The 4 days of rest hopefully will result in a rested and sharp Celtics team that has worked out the kinks in the offense rather than a team that looks rusty because they haven't played in 4 days.

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