Mickael Pietrus admitted it wasn't an average trip to Philadelphia when the Boston Celtics played the 76ers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Wednesday night. The Celt swingman still had some emotions running through him because of the concussion he suffered in his last game at Wells Fargo Center back on March 23.
His feelings for the place were, however, helped by the Celtics' 107-91 victory over the 76ers -- a win that gives Boston a 2-1 lead in the series heading into Friday's Game 4.
In that regular-season game, Pietrus was fouled by Lou Williams as he attempted a shot from the lane. He was pulled back and hit the floor hard. His head didn't strike the court, but the jolt was so intense it caused a serious concussion.
Pietrus was taken from the arena on a stretcher and went by ambulance to the hospital. He wound up missing nearly three weeks.
"That's bad memories," said Pietrus. "But at the same time, I'm glad to be back. It could have been worse.
"Hopefully they're going to cheer for me," he said before the game, "because I almost lost my life."
Williams didn't realize at first how badly Pietrus was hurt.
"I didn't think twice about it," said the 76ers guard. "At first, I actually thought it was his arm or something. Then they told me he was throwing up or whatever and it happened to be a concussion."
Pietrus obviously knew right away that things were bad.
"That was very scary," he said. "When I think of it right now, I'm just happy that I'm OK because it could have been worse. It could have been probably season-ending for me or career-ending. At the end of the day, I'm happy. God protected me."
"I can't watch the replay because it makes me sad," Pietrus added. "I still have that video in my head. Every time somebody falls, it makes me weaker because I'm afraid. That's why I'm always trying not to drive to the basket. Hopefully it's going to be better next year, but right now I'm still afraid of falling again."
Williams spoke with Pietrus prior to Game 1 in this series.
"He told me he's glad I'm OK," Pietrus said. "It wasn't a dirty play, so it is what it is, but it's always good to get the love from the player who hurt you. Everybody was praying for me, especially in the Philly locker room. I appreciate that. That means you have respect around the league and people respect me and have love for me."
Added Williams, "Obviously it wasn't a play of malice. This is a fraternity. We all know each other and it was unfortunate to see that play happen. It was unfortunate for me to be a part of it. I'm just happy to see him back on the court now."