WALTHAM, Mass. -- Mickael Pietrus doesn't have much of a poker face. He admitted as much Monday after engaging in his first full-length, full-team practice with the Celtics.
"There's something you have to know about Mickael Pietrus, I always have a smile on my face," he said with his French accent tumbling out of the familiar grin. And, if it's possible, that smile was just a little wider Monday as the new Celtics swingman deemed himself on pace to make his 2011-12 season debut Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
Pietrus, who signed a veteran's minimum deal on Christmas Eve after facilitating a buyout with the Phoenix Suns and clearing waivers, has spent the last two weeks strengthening a surgically repaired right knee. He felt confident in his health after his first real practice with the Celtics and playfully informed reporters of his plans to play Wednesday.
"Do you have a watch?" he responded when a reporter asked how close he was to game action. "Probably 48 hours. I think I'll be able to help my team. I went through practice, no pain. I told you guys that I was going to be ready in two weeks, so it’s coming pretty soon."
Pietrus admitted that he'll probably need some time to shake the in-game rust having been rehabbing since arthroscopic surgery in July.
"I haven’t played in eight months, so I’m not going to be Mickael Pietrus from the first day, but you can always help your team," he said.
Pietrus playfully joked about getting to explore his new surroundings in his downtime since joining the Celtics. Asked how he's fitting in on the team, he lit up as his eyes scanned the 17 championship banners hanging inside the Celtics' practice facility.
On the court, coach Doc Rivers thinks he can add immediate 3-point shooting to a second unit in desperate need of some shooting.
"I’m just anxious to get him -- he’s another piece that can help us," said Rivers. "You see his toughness, see his defense. He made three or four 3[-pointers] today that were just off a swing -- that was great to see. That adds shooting to the second unit as well. So I’m happy about that."
Rivers said he hadn't conferenced with trainer Ed Lacerte to check if, health-wise, Pietrus was definitely ready to resume action Wednesday, but noted that conversation would come soon. Rivers sees the rust as well, but thinks he can be an immediate contributor.
"You can see it, obviously, [from] not playing and his timing," said Rivers. "But I thought as practice went on, he got better and better. That second group went [Sunday] as well. Just doing drills. So I think he’s just starting to get his legs."
Pietrus has worked in limited form on skeleton drills over the past two weeks and engaged in part of practice last Thursday. But Monday was the first real test. And he had been working to this point since joining the team, which made the wait over the last two weeks less painful to endure.
"It wasn’t hard to be patient... [because] my knee wasn't going to allow me to [practice]. I've been pushing myself hard to be on the floor today, that was my first practice. I feel more comfortable. Hopefully, [Tuesday's] practice, I can take a step again and be ready for Wednesday.
"We don’t have a lot of time to think about the season, because the playoffs are going to come so fast. So I just have to push myself, learn to play... and make myself available to my team on Wednesday. Wednesday is going to be a great day for me."
The Guadeloupe native, nicknamed Air France, informed reporters they could seek him out for help with French cuisine and suggested a gathering next month (when someone originally suggested Wednesday, he playfully joked about being busy with his potential debut and all). After explaining his permanent grin, he had one parting shot for reporters.
"I love you guys, so much -- but I gotta go," he said.
And with that, he disappeared to the weight room, maybe to further prepare for Wednesday.