BOSTON -- Mickael Pietrus didnt want to talk about the details of his injury. He hadnt watched a replay, either. Seeing himself crash into the paint in Philadelphia was too much to handle.
I dont really watch it because it makes me sad, he said. I fell so hard and my brain was moving. I didnt feel good and I was throwing up.
He quickly switched topics, Yeah, OK, next question. Youre trying to make me sad.
Pietrus suffered a grade 3 concussion Mar. 23 during the second half against the Sixers. While the Celtics were hopeful he would return for the playoffs, there was no timetable set for an injury of this severity.
The 30-year-old swingman first visited the TD Garden over a week ago, wearing sunglasses and a towel over his head due to light sensitivity. Then came visits with clear sight, followed by dancing on the court.
Then, on Wednesday night, came his sudden return. He missed just 10 games.
I feel good, extremely good, he said after the Celtics 88-86 overtime win against the Hawks. No more concussion. Its behind me now so I can look forward right now to just get to a level where I can help my team in the playoffs. Im just very happy to be back.
Pietrus found out Wednesday morning he would be able to play. He did not tell the media before the game, though, explaining after, It was an April Fools, with a big smile.
Before tipoff Doc Rivers said Pietrus would be limited to five-to-ten minutes. Instead, he played 29 off the bench, scoring eight points (3-5 FG, 1-2 3PG, 1-2 FT), along with six rebounds. More notably, he was on the court the final seven minutes of the game, including the entire duration of overtime.
Thats what of course hes going to say and there is nothing wrong with that, but Im going to make him play me 30 minutes, Pietrus joked, adding, I enjoy when the game is on the line and you know you have to guard the best player.
Rivers didnt plan for Pietrus to play major minutes after he was told Pietrus was tired after two minutes of workouts. He intended to take him out earlier in the game, but athletic trainer Ed Lacerte gave Pietrus the thumbs up to stay on the court.
I was going to take him out after about three minutes and Eddie said, He looks great. Let him go, let him go. Hell tell you when hes tired, said Rivers. Whats amazing is he actually never looked over and said he was ever tired. Maybe hes been working out on the sly and we never knew it.
The Celtics, who frequently reached out to Pietrus during his recovery, were happy to have their jovial teammate on the court once again. With Ray Allen (ankle) out, Pietrus gave them an extra boost.
It felt good to have Mickael back, said Kevin Garnett. Seemed energetic, seemed like the old Mickael, like nothing had happened to him. He brought good energy, not only to the locker room today but to the floor. It was good to see him.
Said Brandon Bass, He brought defensive intensity, passion. We missed him and it was great to have him back. . . . Ray went down so I was just happy we had someone step up and be ready. I knew it, even from when he walked in, he was so excited about playing tonight. I knew he was going to bring something, help us tonight in a major way.
Pietrus considers himself fortunate to be back on the court after a difficult two weeks. He knows the injury could have been worse, and he is thankful for those who offered their support during the challenging time.
I came out here tonight, 18,624 fans, I was so happy and I just forget the concussion and they were supporting me, he said. Thanks to the fans for supporting me, they tweeted me. And I want to say thanks to the Celtics organization. They looked out for me when I was down. They came to my house and made sure they talked to me and stayed positive. They took care of me from day one.
Now that hes back, Pietrus wants to return the favor by helping the Celtics reach the ultimate goal.
Playoffs are right around the corner so Im trying to help my team the best way I can, he said. Im looking right now, on my mind, even though Im trying to get my brain right, its still banner 18. I think guys are playing great right now so we have a chance to win the championship this year. And we will.