BOSTON Mickael Pietrus was at the Garden early, getting up a few shots.
It was yet another sign that the 6-foot-6 wing was close to returning to the floor after suffering a concussion.
"We'll see," he said when asked by CSNNE.com when he would be back on the court. "Hopefully soon."
Apparently "soon" meant tonight, with C's coach Doc Rivers announcing that Pietrus would in fact be in the lineup tonight against Atlanta.
"We're not going to play him much," Rivers said. "Maybe 5, 10 minutes. But he's been cleared. He worked out yesterday. This is good to ease him in instead of just throwing him in. That's how we're going to do it. The sooner we can get him on the floor, the better."
Rivers had said he was hoping Pietrus would return in time for the playoffs, which begin in a couple weeks, a timetable that Rivers thought was a bit optimistic on his part.
"I didn't expect to see him, maybe this year," Rivers said. "So anything is good. I'm very surprised."
His return comes at a good time for Boston, with Ray Allen out with the same ankle injury that sidelined him for six games last month.
Rivers said he expects Allen to play on Friday at Toronto, but acknowledged his growing concern with Allen once again re-aggravating his ankle injury.
"It just swells, I don't know," Rivers said. "It is what it is."
Rivers said he does not know if the ankle will at some point need surgery, but added, "I'm just more concerned that this is the second or third time that it's happened. So that's concerning."
Pietrus suffered a concussion on March 23 at Philadelphia, a game in which he was in the starting lineup in place of Allen who was out with an ankle injury.
In a phone interview with CSNNE.com the day after suffering the concussion, Pietrus said he did not remember what happened after he landed hard on the court.
"Every time I see it, it just makes me cry," Pietrus said at the time. "Because I know it could have so much worse for me."