Mickael Pietrus Injury: Celtics Star's Concussion Will Hurt Team's Depth

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IMarch 24, 2012

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 13:  Mickael Pietrus #28 of the Boston Celtics celebrates his three point basket in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls on January 13, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Bulls defeated the Boston Celtics 88-79. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Boston Celtics guard Mickael Pietrus was carried off the court in a stretcher during Friday night's game with the Philadelphia 76ers after suffering a concussion according to the team's Twitter account.

Pietrus update: Suffered a "questionable closed head injury" (concussion). Had X-ray, CT scan and will get MRI. Staying overnight in Philly.

— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 24, 2012

On Friday, Pietrus was cleared to travel and will be further evaluated by doctors in Boston.

Pietrus update: He has been cleared to travel and is scheduled to be seen by the Celtics team medical staff upon his return to Boston.

— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 24, 2012

Pietrus was signed by the Celtics earlier in the season to give the team more depth with his ability to play shooting guard and small forward. 

With Boston dealing with numerous injuries this season, losing Pietrus and hurting their depth would be a major blow to their chances of improving as a unit before the playoffs arrive.

His ability to shoot very well from the outside and play exceptional one-on-one defense against opposing team's best perimeter scorers is a huge asset to head coach Doc Rivers.

With Ray Allen battling injuries this season and the Celtics trying to cut Paul Pierce's minutes to keep him fresh, Pietrus is an important part of the team and plays a lot of minutes. He started in Allen's place on Friday because Ray is nursing a sore ankle.

With backup point guard Avery Bradley hurting his ankle in the 76ers game on Friday, Allen already having an ankle injury, and Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal lost for the season with injuries, the Celtics have very little depth right now.

"It's just been a hell of a year right now," Rivers said via ESPN.

"We have a resilient group, though," Rivers said. "I'm so proud of our team -- we just keep sustaining injuries. But guys are just trying to play and win. That's really nice. ...

"It's maddening, but it is what it is. We are passing the test. That's all we can do. It's just tough. Every night it seems like -- what's amazing is it has nothing to do with age; it's the young guys. Things happen. But I keep telling them, we've decided to be that grind team; we gotta keep doing that."

The Celtics have really been hit with some awful luck regarding injuries since their championship season of 2008. This season, it seems like a new player picks up some sort of injury nearly every week.

Getting healthy is the team's No. 1 goal right now since it's very likely they won't lose their playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 28:  Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics talks to a referee during the game against the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena on December 28, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees
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In the short term, however, Pietrus' absence will hurt the club's bench and could force young players such as rookie guard E'Twaun Moore to play a much bigger role in the near future.

Without Pietrus, Rivers would have very little depth to work with on his bench, and would likely be forced to play starters like Allen, Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo more minutes than he would like.

Playing the starters more minutes than normal is not the ideal situation for the Celtics, but if Pietrus misses a large number of games, it's the only strategy Rivers has to keep the team competitive.

 

Nicholas Goss is an NBA Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and also covers the Boston Bruins, follow him on Twitter.