WALTHAM — It will mark the Celtics’ first game against a pair of icons whose jersey numbers will one day hang from TD Garden’s rafters, not far from the 17th championship banner they helped hang up there as well.
But after practice here Monday, the Celtics downplayed Tuesday’s preseason game against Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and the rest of the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center in New York. It is, after all, only an exhibition game, and it’s unclear whether Garnett and Pierce will even play.
“We’re just treating it like a regular game,” said forward Brandon Bass, who played for two seasons alongside Garnett and Pierce until they were shipped, along with Jason Terry, to Brooklyn in a blockbuster deal for players and first-round draft picks.
But that’s not to say Bass isn’t looking forward to seeing Garnett and Pierce.
“They both helped me out a lot,” Bass said. “They did a lot for this organization. I’ll be excited to see them, but at the same time, it’s going to be competitive.”
Both Bass and fellow Celtics forward Jeff Green said they haven’t spoken to their former teammates since the trade.
“It just got to a point where it was time to move on, for me,” Green said. “They’re gone. I can’t worry about how they feel or how I feel. The trade happened, it happened. When I see them, brief words and then I’ll get ready to play.”
Bass also said he expects the regular-season matchups between the team to be more emotional than Tuesday’s affair. The Celtics and Nets are scheduled to play four times in the regular season, with the first meeting Dec. 10 in Brooklyn, the next Jan. 26 in Boston.
“I got like four former teams, so it ain’t no motivation for me,” said veteran swingman Gerald Wallace, who was sent to Boston along with MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, and Keith Bogans in the Brooklyn deal.
“Guys change teams every day. We just want to come out and try to get better as the Boston Celtics. We cherish, honor, and respect the things they did here, but they’re not here no more. Right now, they are our enemy, they are the opposing team, and we just want to continue to get better as the Celtics.”
Coach Brad Stevens said of Pierce and Garnett, “Again, their jerseys will be in the rafters and they are special, special players here. I really respect that.
“But I don’t know them personally. I’ve never met them. I don’t have any extra emotion tied to it, like some of our players will. I think that’s OK to have that.”
Brooks said the Celtics, who are 1-3 this preseason, are more focused on improving than on facing Brooklyn.
That said, he added, “Obviously I’m looking forward to playing at the Barclays Center because they traded me.”
Brooks said he didn’t even know where the visitors locker room is at his former home arena. “It’s going to be different,” he said.
Tuesday’s game is also the first of a back-to-back set, as the Celtics will face the Raptors in Toronto Wednesday.
Sharing the moment
Along with the rest of Boston, the Celtics were still in awe of the dramatic comeback wins Sunday by the Red Sox and Patriots.
“That was great, wasn’t it?” Stevens said. “I have to admit, I fell asleep at the end of the Red Sox game. I’m sad to say that, but I woke up as they were celebrating.
“I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I’m looking forward to watching the YouTube [clip] of it. And I saw the drive. I saw [Tom] Brady was operating like a surgeon on that last drive. That was really something.”
It was also a special day for Wallace, a huge fan of David Ortiz and Brady, whom Wallace met as he attended his first-ever Patriots game.
“That’s like my childhood dream to meet him,” Wallace said. “It was Michael Jordan, then him. I met Michael, played for Michael. I met Brady. I didn’t meet him the way I wanted to meet him. I actually wanted to talk to him, but I understand it’s a game, big game for them, and he’s preparing for the game, I didn’t want to break his process. Just got a quick handshake as he was walking to the locker room.”
But like many in the stands at Gillette Stadium, Wallace left early.
“I missed the game-winning touchdown pass,” Wallace said. “Then when we gave up the two home runs in the sixth inning, I cut the TV off and started playing Xbox. Something just told me, I just had that feeling in my body, ‘Turn the TV back on.’ I turned it on, bases loaded, and Papi was coming on.”
Bogans is out indefinitely with a sprained right thumb after having the injury reevaluated Monday. Team doctors will continue to monitor him moving forward. Bogans suffered the injury Friday in the preseason loss to Philadelphia . . . Stevens said the lineup he used in the last two games — with Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford, and Green — is likely how they’ll start Tuesday’s game. “We’re starting to settle a little bit from a lineup standpoint,” he said . . . The struggling Green said he’s looking to “get my game back” but he added that the only thing wrong is that his shots aren’t falling. “Hopefully they will soon,” he said.