It's been an interesting season for Mickael Pietrus. Signed as a free-agent to the full Mid-Level Exception during the off-season, Pietrus was expected to step in and be the starting two-guard for the Orlando Magic. Injuries and the surprising emergence of Courtney Lee, however, forced Pietrus to the bench as the year progressed.
As a result, Pietrus' production plummeted. Battling an injury here and there & inconsistency can do that to a player. Just didn't seem Pietrus was able to develop momentum and get back into the rhythm he was in at the beginning of the season.
Fast-forward to the postseason and Pietrus has found his confidence again. Pietrus started off the playoffs slow, not making much of an impact in the Sixers' series. But, Pietrus has been playing stellar basketball since then, against the Celtics & the Cavaliers; quickly becoming the undisputed sixth man for the team. Good timing.
And the Magic have been needing his help, especially against the likes of Paul Pierce and LeBron James. Pietrus is one of the few players on the team with the athleticism and length to, at minimum, bother either individual on defense. Pietrus isn't going to stop Pierce or James, but he can at least slow them down a bit. Statistically, Pietrus has been excellent on defense (defensive adj. plus/minus of -4.91).
How about Pietrus' offense? It's been good. Here's a rundown of the numbers ..
|Minutes Per Game (23.8)|
|Offensive Rating (115)|
|adj. plus/minus (+0.92)|
Pietrus is third on Orlando's roster in adjusted plus/minus (in the postseason) and consider this, he is also third on the team, so far in the playoffs, in true shooting percentage (62.3%) & effective field-goal percentage (58.6%). That's real impressive, considering he's a player that makes his living around the perimeter.
Well, Pietrus is doing something he should always be doing more of - attacking the lane. Although Pietrus has been a poor finisher around the basket during the regular season, it's still beneficial for him to mix it up offensively and slash to the paint. Why? Because he collapses the defense, draws fouls (in which he can convert at the free-throw line), etc. All in all, it makes Pietrus a more balanced player on offense. Don't think it works? Ask Rashard Lewis, and he'll tell you himself. It works, folks.
Even though Pietrus had a lackluster regular season with the Magic, I stated a little while back in a post that he has the chance to make up for it with a strong postseason. And he has, so far. Orlando is at the precipice of the franchise's second NBA Finals appearance, and Pietrus is one of the reasons why.
C'est la vie.