NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets swingman Paul Pierce, who was expected to miss 2-4 weeks after breaking a bone in his right hand on Nov. 29, will suit up for Tuesday's game against the Boston Celtics, coming off the bench against his former team.
The Nets will get a double dose of All-Star infusion with the returns of point guard Deron Williams and Pierce. Nets coach Jason Kidd was coy with how much the duo will play, but it can only seemingly help a team that's staggered to a 6-14 start.
Pierce, who spent the first 15 years of his career with the Celtics, and Kevin Garnett, whose arrival helped spark Boston to its 17th world title in 2008, will play their first regular-season game against the visiting Celtics. What is Kidd's advice for them facing their former squad?
"To breathe and to relax and to enjoy the moment," Kidd said. "There will probably be, for Paul and KG, a period before the game of reflection of what they accomplished in Boston in winning a championship and then, being competitors, they’ll be ready to play."
First-year Celtics coach Brad Stevens said his team prepared for Pierce to play after he returned to practice on Tuesday and said Pierce's presence won't alter Boston's approach. Stevens has noted that he hopes some of the emotions in playing Brooklyn dissipated during two preseason meetings (though Garnett sat out both).
"I don’t have the emotional pull that our players will," Stevens said. "That being said, I just want to play good basketball. And that’s my job, to figure out how we can continue to play good basketball."
Asked if he's noticed any change in his team's emotional state during this reunion week (Boston hosts former coach Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday), Stevens said, "[The Celtics players] are not a huge rah-rah group, generally. They are pretty business-like, so it’s been pretty much like normal. ... I like that because it’s pretty business-like and -- 82 games, boy, if you go up and down, you’re in trouble because the down nights, you’ve got no shot. The up nights, you hope to give yourself a chance to win, [but] you better stay steady, just try to play as well as you can."