More progress for Pietrus

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Mickael Pietrus continues to work towards a return to the court.MIAMI -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that swingman Mickael Pietrus continues to make progress in his recovery from a grade III concussion and suggested Tuesday that his return could very well happen before the playoffs arrive.

Rivers said the latest report from back home was that Pietrus is running with no ill effects from the head injury sustained last month in Philadelphia. Pietrus began his concussion testing last week and passed a baseline test, but still has more tests to navigate before being allowed to return to full basketball activities. Pietrus told ESPNBoston.com on Sunday that he was targeting a return in about two weeks, which would be right before the end of the regular season, and Rivers said that's a strong possibility if he continues to progress as he has lately.

"Honestly, I haven’t asked [team trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] yet, we haven’t gotten into the return date, but [Pietrus] sounds like sooner than later," said Rivers. "But that’s from Pietrus, so we have to temper all that. Listen, if we get him at all, it’s a blessing, because it didn’t look like we would, that would be a huge boost for our team."

Asked about passing the initial tests, Rivers couldn't resist a one-liner, quipping, "Like I told [Pietrus], it’s encouraging if he passes any test." Turning more serious, Rivers added, "No, that’s good. And he’s been running with no effects, either, which I think is even more important. So that’s a great sign for us."

Rivers continues to hint that, if Pietrus can get healthy and shake the rust, he'd consider thrusting him into a starting role to give the team even more options in matching up with bigger backcourts (potentially rotating him and Avery Bradley depending on the opponent, which is obviously easier based on series play in the postseason). One thing is clear: Ray Allen is locked into his bench role.

"[Getting Pietrus back] would be great for us," said Rivers. "It would give us the ability, if we wanted to, to use that different lineup, if [the opponent has a] bigger 2 or 3, you could use Pietrus, or just stay with Avery. It just makes our bench even better. I like Pietrus on the bench, too, because he can guard the 3 and he can space the floor even more with his shot -- it makes us a better basketball team.

"Look, you get your players back healthy, you’re better. So it would be nice."