NEW YORK -- Paul Pierce will face his former team after all.
Pierce had missed the last five games due to a fractured third metacarpal bone in his right hand. He was originally supposed to miss 2-4 weeks after he suffered the injury on Nov. 29 in Houston, but ended up returning just 11 days later. Pierce practiced Monday before telling his coach he was ready to play.
Kidd said his reasoning for bringing Pierce off the bench is to get him comfortable with the glove he's going to wear over his right hand and "there's no reason to press him into the starting lineup." Pierce has played in 1,117 career regular-season games and started all but three of them.
When Kidd asked Pierce about the bench, Kidd said Pierce was comfortable with it, telling his coach, "'Whatever you need me to do.'"
Pierce is averaging just 12.4 points on 36.8 percent shooting.
This will be the first time Pierce and power forward Kevin Garnett will face their former team in a regular-season game. They make their return to Boston on Jan. 26.
Asked what advices he'll give Pierce and Garnett, Kidd replied, "To breathe and to relax and enjoy the moment. There will, for Pierce and for Kevin, probably be a period before the game of reflection, what they accomplished in Boston and winning a championship, but being competitors, they'll be ready to play."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.