BOSTON - Mickael Pietrus likes to joke around. Prior to Wednesday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks, Pietrus spoke with the media about a possible timetable for his return and said he didn't know when he would be ready. Minutes later, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said that Pietrus would be playing. As for a postgame explanation from Pietrus?
"I knew I was playing since this morning," said Pietrus. "That was an April fools'."
It's not a surprise that Pietrus would joke around (he's the king comedian in the Celtics' locker room), but his performance in his first game back from a concussion was. Pietrus, who suffered from a closed head injury on March 23 against the Philadelphia 76ers and missed 10 straight games, provided the Celtics with critical minutes off the bench in their 88-86 overtime win. Pietrus scored a bench-leading eight points in nearly 29 minutes.
"I felt great," Pietrus said. "It was just trying to bring that energy because I knew that guys travel light and they are going to need that extra energy and obviously that's what I did and I'm very happy that we could keep winning and stay positive."
"He was great. He was great," Rivers said. "You know it's funny, Danny (Ainge) called me today and said they worked him out and he said he was tired after two minutes. And they worked out yesterday. So we went in, thinking four, five minutes and really. That game was to get him ready for the games coming up. Going into it that was our plan.
"And you could see pretty much right away, I was going to take him out after about three minutes and Eddie said, ‘He looks great. Let him go, let him go. He'll tell you when he's tired.' What's amazing is he actually never looked over and said he was ever tired. Which, that's - maybe he's been working out on the sly and we never knew it."
Rivers initially told the media that Pietrus would play between five and ten minutes, but that obviously wasn't the case, with Pietrus playing nearly 30. As Rivers said after the game, he has the right to change his mind, which is what he did after consulting the team trainer.
"Yeah, yeah. You know, he looked great," Rivers said about his pregame minutes limit for Pietrus. "I turned to (trainer) Eddie (Lacerte) and Eddie said, ‘No. Go.' He said, ‘He's fine.' And so...I said five-to-ten. You know when you coach, you actually change your mind sometimes during games. It's allowed."
"That's what of course he's going to say and there is nothing wrong with that, but I'm going to make him play me 30 minutes," Pietrus said.
Pietrus could have come out of the game if he wanted to, but he stayed on in the fourth quarter and in overtime, playing 8:10 in the fourth and all five minutes in the extra period.
"That's me," said Pietrus. "I enjoy when the game is on the line and you know you have to guard the best player and I think our team did a great job in the fourth quarter defensively and that's what we needed."
Some players might think twice about putting their bodies on the line in the first game back from a jarring concussion, but not Pietrus. All night long, Pietrus drove to the hoop without care and looked like his normal self without any drawbacks.
"I feel good, extremely good," he said. "No more concussion, it's behind me now so I look forward right now to just get to a level where I can help my team in the playoffs and just very happy to be back. I came out here tonight, 23,000 fans [for the record, it was 18,624 fans], I was so happy and just I forget the concussion and they were supporting me.
"Thanks (fans) for supporting me, they Tweet me. And I want to say thanks to the Celtics organization, they look for me when I was down, they came to my house make sure they talk to me and stay positive and they took care of me from day one."