Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett renew acquaintances with Celtics
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It wasn't as if Paul Pierce took a wrong turn, unsure where the Nets' digs were.
Pierce knew precisely what he was doing when he made his way into the visitors' locker room at the Barclays Center Tuesday night. The Nets veteran forward had a few hands to slap, and if there were any babies in there, he probably would've kissed them, too.
That's the way it is when you spend the first 15 years of your career in one place, creating the only professional memories he's had until he donned the Nets uniform a couple of weeks ago. Pierce bled Celtics' green and he apparently wanted to emphasize that to his former teammates, given this was the first time he has seen many of them since the blockbuster trade that sent him, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets in July.
"It was a little weird looking over and seeing all the green uniforms," Pierce said after registering four points, 10 rebounds and five assists in 27 minutes in the Nets' 82-80 victory over Boston. "I'm used to lining up in the green and white for so long. But it was good to see some of the guys that I played with. I had a chance to go into the locker room with a lot of guys, wish them good luck on the year."
Pierce softened his stance on making the trek to Boston for the Nets' preseason tilt with the Celtics a week from Wednesday. During the summer, Pierce had strongly suggested he only had eyes on their two regular-season dates in Boston.
But he left the door slightly ajar to possibly playing next week, understanding that he's going to have to get through that dramatic moment at some point.
"It's definitely going to be a lot different when I step into the Garden, the first time I go to Boston because you played your entire career there and so many memories, so many friends," Pierce said. "I don't know if I'm looking forward to it because I already know I'm probably going to shed a tear or two. But it's the business. I'm here in Brooklyn now. I wish everybody over there good luck."
Jason Kidd delivered some friendly advice to Pierce just before taking the court and fist bumping his old teammates as they awaited the jump ball.
"I joked with him before the national anthem and said to kind of think about it like a scrimmage, green against white," said the Nets coach, whose jersey will be raised to the rafters Thursday night when the Nets host the Heat. "We're the white team because this is the first time he's seeing that green on the other side. I thought he handled it well."
Pierce continues to get acclimated to his new team, carving out his role within the Nets' scheme. He's been a bit passive with his shot, but that's by design. Knowing he doesn't have to shoulder the bulk of the offensive duties as he did with the Celtics, he's looking to stuff the boxscore in other ways.
"I'm still trying to figure it out," Pierce said. "The good thing about it is I don't have the offensive load that I have to carry out here, so I haven't really been aggressive and looking for my shot this preseason. So I'm trying to do other things such as rebound, pass the ball.
There's going to be nights where I'm going to have games where I get 10, 15 shots . . . I'm trying to find out how I can have an impact on the game without having to score the ball and that's what I'm trying to do. But there's going to be nights when I do score the ball.
"With the depth we have, those shots I'm going to get are probably going to be far and few in between. Some nights I'm going to get them, some nights I'm not. So, I've got to figure out how to be effective out there."
Pierce is being helpful in another way, too: trying to save Garnett from himself, attempting to drill it into his head that being healthy for the long run is much more important than playing on the second end of back-to-backs. Garnett, in accordance with Kidd's plan, was given the night off to rest and recuperate, something Garnett wasn't necessarily thrilled with. But the savvy veteran was at least in a decent mood before tip-off, plopping down on the floor in the Nets' locker room, fixing his attention squarely on the flat-screen television in front of him as footage of the Celtics' contest with the Knicks last week was playing. If Garnett was angry, he surewasn't showing it.
"I think it's really helped with having me around," Pierce said. "I'm like a second coach for him. So when Kidd tells him to sit down and he don't want to sit down, then I'll come over to him. We've been boys forever, so he listens. But he's been better with that."
Notes & quotes: The Nets waived Marko Jaric after the game . . . Tornike Shengelia (left knee) said he expects to begin practicing with the team next week and is hopeful of playing in a game before the preseason concludes.