C's Quell Emotions Heading into Nets Game
BOSTON – Everyone wants to make a story out of the fact that the Boston Celtics will play against Paul Pierce for the first time ever, and against Kevin Garnett for the first time in six years, on Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
That is, everyone except for the players involved in the game.
Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Gerald Wallace all spoke to the media Monday afternoon after they wrapped up practice in Waltham, Mass. Green and Bass each played two seasons with Pierce and Garnett; Wallace played for the Nets and was involved in the blockbuster trade that sent Pierce and Garnett to Brooklyn.
All three players were pinged about tomorrow’s game, and all three of them downplayed its meaning.
Green, who has been around the Celtics for nearly three years, showed the least emotion of the group. He was stone-faced as he relayed his feelings about this game to the media.
“I haven’t really thought about individuals playing against us,” he said. “They’ve got a great team. We just have to come ready to play.”
Reporters continued to question him about his emotions but Green’s tenor did not change.
“They’re gone,” Green said. “I can’t worry about how they feel or how I feel. The trade happened. It happened. When I see them, brief words, and get ready to play.”
Brandon Bass was a bit more jovial as he fielded questions but his thoughts were consistent with Green’s. He is more concerned with his team’s progress than who he’ll be playing against Tuesday night.
“Us as a young group, we’re focusing on improving every night,” be said. “I think there will be a lot more emotion in the regular season games – for those guys I think, Paul and Kevin.”
Wallace comes from a different perspective regarding this contest. He won’t be playing against teammates who he nearly went to the NBA Finals with. He will be facing his former team, but he’s been there and done that before.
“I’ve got like four former teams, so no motivation coming,” he stated nonchalantly. “Our main thing is just get better as a team. Get better and try to build going into the regular season.”
There’s no question that the Celtics are focused. They’re focused on building on Saturday’s blowout victory over the Knicks, not about who will be on the other sideline tomorrow night.
That being said, these guys understand and appreciate what Pierce and Garnett did for this franchise. Pierce and Garnett changed the direction of the organization and restored championship expectations. That doesn’t go unnoticed and it will never be forgotten.
“They did a lot for this organization, “ said Bass.
Added Wallace, “I think we cherish and everyone honors and respects what they did here.”
That honor and respect comes from everyone involved with the Celtics, including head coach Brad Stevens. He hasn’t even met Pierce or Garnett but he still recognizes them as two of the greatest players who have ever donned a Celtics uniform.
“Certainly being a around this organization I’m thankful for what they did and what they brought to Boston,” Stevens said. “Again, I think their jerseys will be in the rafters. They’re special, special players here.”
But they’ll be nothing more than opponents Tuesday night. We as outsiders want to make this game out to be an emotional juggernaut. The players, however, are at the other end of the spectrum.
Will there be some added emotions tomorrow night? Absolutely. But the Celtics are most concerned with one particular emotion: the joy of victory.