WALTHAM — Many of the names, even the star, are different. So even though Jason Terry will be seeing the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday for the first time since he parted ways with the team after eight years, there might not be the same impact.
“This is a totally different ball club,” said Terry, who won the 2011 NBA title with the Mavericks. “Dirk [Nowitzki’s] not even in uniform. Shawn Marion may not be out there. So, I mean, those are the guys I won the championship with and they’re not there. Definitely a different team, but same name.”
That was how Terry tried to play it, talking about how the Celtics just need to focus on themselves and on winning consistently. But it’s not as if the day will be just like any other. Rick Carlisle, the coach then and now, will be on the sideline.
“That will be emotional for me,” Terry said. “I’ll go up, give him a good hug. I miss him. He’s definitely a good friend, one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever played for.
“But anything other than that, maybe if Tyson Chandler was over there, if Jason Kidd was over there, it would be something extra special. But honestly it’s really not.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he was sure the game would be more important for Terry. “That’s just human nature,’’ Rivers said. “What you don’t want to make it is bigger-than-life competition.”
Terry was drafted by the Hawks and spent five years in Atlanta before moving on to Dallas. He got his first taste of the playoffs there with the perennial contender. A multi-year deal was discussed, but the sides couldn’t agree and Terry left for the Celtics.
Mark Cuban told the Dallas News on Monday that Terry, a fan favorite, is always welcome back with the organization and said, “I would have liked for him to stay.”
“Do we wish we would have kept that team together?” Terry said. “You’re darn right. Have a chance to repeat, that’s a big factor. You look at Miami, they added pieces, they didn’t subtract.
“You wish you could go back and change it, but you can’t. So now we’re going forward. I believe this team we have in Boston is just as talented, if not more, than what we had in Dallas.”
It will be different for Terry when the Celtics head to Dallas March 22. Being in that building, with those fans, that impact can’t be anticipated. At least not yet.
“They’ve been watching all season,” he said. “They’ve got League Pass, they’ve seen. I think it’ll be more special when I’m in their building, in their arena. Then we’ll have something to talk about.”
Asked about being considered one of the greatest Mavericks of all time, Terry said, “That’s important to me. For me to sit here and self-proclaim that wouldn’t be fair. That’s for the fans to say and for Mark Cuban.
“But again, what we accomplished in Dallas hopefully will never be duplicated and that means we’ll go down as one of the best.”
Rivers and many of the Celtics spent Monday night at Gillette Stadium with the Patriots and Bill Belichick. The coaches in Boston generally have had good relationships, and often talk and discuss the profession.
Rivers and Belichick are no different, and Rivers said he appreciated being able to sit in on the team’s offensive meeting before facing the Texans.
“I love watching that team play,” Rivers said. “It’s just really awesome watching them, how they execute, how professional they are. Every time I go to a Patriots game, I get so much out of it.
“Listening to what they said they wanted to do on offense before the game, then watching them actually do it, it’s pretty impressive.”
Rivers compared Rajon Rondo to Tom Brady in terms of being the team’s quarterback as its point guard, but said that the Brady-Belichick relationship is most comparable to his relationship with Kevin Garnett.
With the Mavericks up next, the big name to focus on is O.J. Mayo. Mayo, who signed with Dallas in the offseason after playing with Memphis for four years, is playing extremely well, shooting 53 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 20.8 points. Terry said, “His work ethic has definitely changed. You hear coming out of their locker room what he’s done different, he’s brought better work habits. He’s been there at night, he’s come in early before the games. I think that’s carrying over for him. He’s always been a great talent, but there’s been some question about his work ethic. Obviously this year he’s put the work in and it’s starting to show.” Rivers said Mayo is playing “off the charts.” . . . The Celtics were back at practice on Tuesday after taking two days off, a balancing act that Rivers is always running up against. “There’s no science to it,” he said. “Sometimes I guess right and sometimes I guess wrong.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.