Celtics

Pietrus to return against Hawks

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Pietrus to return against Hawks

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."

McClellin practices with Patriots for first time since training camp

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McClellin practices with Patriots for first time since training camp

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick said it was "a possibility" on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it was a reality. 

Patriots linebacker Shea McClellin was back on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury that landed him on injured reserve before the season. 

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Belichick mentioned in a conference call this week that if McClellin was ready to practice, then practicing was an option. "If he's not ready," Belichick said at the time, "then it's not an option."

Obviously, it was an option, and the Patriots brought McClellin back as soon as possible based on the league's rules for players on injured reserve. For those who have been placed on IR, they must sit out six weeks before returning to practice. They must sit out eight weeks before playing in a game. Because the Patriots have a Week 9 bye, then McClellin's first opportunity to be in uniform would be Week 10. 

For the first time since players could be designated to return off of IR in 2012, teams are now allowed to bring back two players. 

Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell has also been on IR since the day of the season-opener, though he has not been spotted in the Patriots locker room recently. ESPN's Mike Reiss reported over the weekend that Mitchell (knee) isn't close to a return. 

Patriots defensive lineman Vincent Valentine (knee) is on IR as well and could be a candidate to return, but he was placed on the list two days prior to New England's Week 3 game with Houston so his timeline is different from McClellin's and Mitchell's. 

McClellin played in 17 games last season, including playoffs, and he finished the season with the second-most snaps of any Patriots linebacker behind Dont'a Hightower. McClellin has the ability to be a versatile piece for Belichick's defense, with experience both off the line and on the edge, and he has been a core special-teamer.