Sunday, April 8, 2012
Mickael Pietrus passes baseline test
By Jackie MacMullan
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics swingman Mickael Pietrus maneuvered his way through the throng of media members that was waiting for Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins to address them following Boston's 103-79 win Sunday night at the Garden.
"I'd like to talk to you, but I don't play for Philadelphia," joked Pietrus as he left the building.
Moments earlier, though, Pietrus spoke briefly to ESPNBoston.com about his recovery from a head injury suffered against the Sixers on March 23. In his first public comments since his hard fall in Philadelphia sent him to the hospital with a concussion, Pietrus said he was "feeling good, much better."
Asked when he thought he'd be able to return, he answered, "Oh, I don't know. A couple of weeks, maybe? I'm hoping so."
"I'm doing everything they ask me to," he said. "I'm taking all the tests."
What kind of tests? Did he mean the neurological testing used to measure improvement following a concussion?
"Yes, those," he said. "I'm improving every time."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before Sunday's game that Pietrus passed a baseline concussion test, the first step in his return to the basketball court.
Rivers didn't have many details, including exactly when Pietrus passed the test (he said it occurred while the Celtics were out of town for games against Chicago and Indiana) or a timeline for his progression from here (Rivers earlier had said it might be another week after he passed his tests before he could return to activity).
But the coach admitted it's an encouraging sign in Pietrus' recovery from a Grade III concussion suffered last month in Philadelphia.
"He feels good," Rivers said. "I think, personality wise, he's talking -- and talking loud again -- that's a good sign."
Pietrus has been at the Garden for each of the team's last two games, wearing sunglasses and a hood to aid with light sensitivity last Sunday against the Heat, then shedding that garb for a visit for Wednesday's game against San Antonio. He was spotted in the Spurs' locker room after the game joking with friends.
Pietrus was back at the Garden for Sunday's visit from Philadelphia, and Rivers continues to suggest he's itchy to get back to work.
Rivers has also hinted that Pietrus could be in line to join the starting lineup if he's able to shake the rust and get enough games in before the end of the regular season.
When the Celtics initially thought about moving Ray Allen to a bench role, it was with the idea of leaning on Pietrus as the starting shooting guard. Rivers said it would be a luxury once Pietrus is back to have both him and second-year guard Avery Bradley to choose from in that role.
"Again, as I was trying to tell you (in recent weeks), we only talked about it for two years as a staff, but we've never had anyone to step forward," Rivers said of moving Allen to the bench. "We've always wanted a stronger bench. At least for the last year and a half, we've talked about it. Now with Avery and, hopefully if we can get Mickael back, then it's phenomenal, you have either guy you can play in the lineup and use the other guy off the bench. That would be the best-case scenario for us. Again, right now, we're just going to do Avery because we don't know what Mickael is going to do."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg was used in this report.