Championship teams are led by superstars, but those superstars can't do it alone. They need contributions from the guys around them and every championship run includes step-up performances from the support players that know their role and play it exceptionally well.
In 2008 one of the key role players was James Posey. He played hard-nosed team defense, fought for every loose ball, and just when the other team was starting to make a run, he'd drill a dagger three pointer to turn the tide. That's exactly what Mickael Pietrus did for us last night.
Before last night, he had made exactly one shot in the series but that didn't stop him from being helpful. He's been solid on defense and you could argue that his 2 straight offensive rebounds in overtime of game 4 were as important as any shots that were made. Even though the Celtics couldn't convert on that possession, they held the ball away from the Heat long enough to limit their shot attempts in overtime.
With that said, it really does help when Pietrus is shooting the ball well. On offense he's pretty one dimensional. He's either going to shoot a 3 pointer or put it on the floor and try to drive to the basket (where he's an average finisher).
A lot of attention will rightfully go to Paul Pierce's hero shot, but the one that Pietrus hit earlier in the 4th was just as big.
With the Heat on a 9-0 run to go up, 78-72, Brandon Bass had his dunk blocked by Dwyane Wade, but the loose ball went out to Rajon Rondo, who touched it immediately to a wide-open Pietrus on the right baseline. Pietrus drilled it to cut the Heat lead to three and help spark Boston’s comeback.
That play was huge and it was as symbolic as it was timely. When one thing didn't work (the Bass dunk attempt), Rondo didn't flinch or hang his head. He had the presence of mind to tap it to Pietrus who didn't hesitate to take the shot one bit. Rondo trusted him and he had confidence in himself to step up.
Turns out, he got a helping hand from an old friend.
"(Monday) I got a text from (Shaquille O'Neal) telling me keep believing and keep playing," Pietrus said. "So that's what I did. And when (Rajon) Rondo took that rebound and kicked it out to me, I knew I had to take the shot and make it. So that's what I did."
I'll take the inspiration from wherever we can get it. On a night when the shots weren't always falling for the stars, it was great to get a performance like that from one of the non-stars. Very Posey-like. The only thing missing was the bear hugs.