BOSTON -- Celtics swingman Mickael Pietrus, sidelined for 17 days after suffering a grade III concussion last month in Philadelphia, will return to action Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. His return comes at an ideal time as guard Ray Allen will sit out after swelling returned in his ailing right ankle.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Pietrus will play a manageable stint (5 to 10 minutes) as the team eases him back in after he was cleared to play since passing the league's mandated concussion tests this week.
"He’s been cleared, he worked out [Tuesday], and this is good for him," said Rivers. "We'll ease him in, instead of just throwing him in. That’s how we’re going to do it. It’s not like he’s going to have any practices. The sooner we can get him on the floor, the better. And all the doctors cleared him, so once I hear that, then he’s ready to play."
Asked if he's surprised how quickly his return came together considering the team had wondered recently if he'd even be back on the floor in time for the playoffs, Rivers added, "I didn’t expect to see him, maybe this year. Anything is good. I'm very surprised."
Pietrus' return is only tempered by the fact that Allen is out again. Sidelined for six games due to soreness in his right ankle, Allen returned for five games, but so did the swelling and the team is forced to wait for it to subside again.
"It just swells, I guess," said Rivers. "I don’t know. I got a call a little while ago [informing him that Allen would be out]. It is what it is."
Rivers had previously expressed concern about the potential for the injury to return, throwing Boston's rotations into flux and that's exactly what has happened. Rivers said he expects Allen on the upcoming four-game road trip that starts with a visit to Toronto on Friday night, but admitted he couldn't be certain.
"I’m just more concerned that this is the second or third time this has happened," said Rivers. "So that’s concerning."
Pietrus spoke to reporters before the game for the first time since being injured and, while purposely cryptic about his return date, he expressed great satisfaction in simply being healthy enough to play basketball again after two harrowing weeks while recovering from the severe head injury.
"I was laid up for two weeks, I couldn’t do much," said Pietrus. "I was trying to rest my brain. I could not watch TV, I could not do anything. It’s not like an injury that you hurt your knee or your ankle -- it’s your brain, so you have to get your brain right. That’s basically your life...
"My next step is to enjoy life. Life is too short. You saw me on the floor [in Philadelphia], like one minute I was healthy, the next minute I was laid down. To me, right now, it's just enjoy life. I don’t think about anything else. Just enjoy my time with my teammates. Just enjoy my time."