EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J, — Paul Pierce has not played since Nov. 29 because of a displaced fracture in his right hand, yet in less than two weeks he returned to Nets practice and said could be available Tuesday against the Celtics.
Pierce said it was mere coincidence that he would be ready to face his former team. The former face of the Celtics franchise has been busy trying to help turnaround what has been a miserable beginning for the Nets, who will enter Tuesday with a 5-14 record. Pierce said he was cleared to begin shooting a few days ago and said there’s a “good chance” he’ll face the Celtics for the first time in the regular season.
Pierce attempted to downplay his emotions when facing the Celtics, but he offered some interesting thoughts on his former club, which traded him, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for four players and four first-round draft picks in June.
“I’ve already been past that part a long time ago,: he said. “I’m a person that’s always when it’s time to move on, you move on. You can ask any girlfriend I’ve ever had. That’s just the way it is. It’s no hard feelings. I’m here. This is where I’m at now. You’ve got to move on. You can’t mourn or put your head down, this is what it is.
“I think emotions are already behind me. We played them in the preseason. We had our press conference. Emotions are all behind. I probably won’t have any more emotions until I go back into the arena that I played in but I’ve moved on, they’ve moved on, Doc’s moved on, Ray’s moved on. It is what it is.”
When asked about the surprising Celtics, who are 10-12 after a 41-point shellacking of the New York Knicks on Sunday, Pierce said: “A whole new coaching staff, a lot of young guys, they’re in development stages, trying to bring up the guys that are there, (Rajon) Rondo, their leader now. You have to move towards the future at some point. I’ve been there for a long, long time and the Celtics are aiming towards the future.
“They’re really surprising a lot of people. Guys are stepping up. They’re played good team ball, they’re running, they’re playing together despite Rondo being out. Nobody expected them to play good right now, especially without their leader. They’re probably going to be a better team once Rondo comes back and try to make a playoff push and that’s something a lot of people didn’t expect.”
The Nets were assembled to win a championship immediately but have been one of the league’s most disappointing teams. Pierce said a title remains a possibility.
“I think we have the potential of a championship team, the talent of a championship team. It’s about putting it all together, getting healthy and then seeing what we got,” he saud. “We’ve seen flashes of it at times but it’s tough when you don’t know who’s going to be in the lineup one night and who’s going to be out but injuries do happen to every team and it’s something we’ve got to deal with but I’d like to see us when we get fully healthy and see what our potential could possibly be.”