WALTHAM — Next week’s Nets-Celtics matchup in Brooklyn will mark the first regular-season meeting between the teams since their blockbuster trade this offseason.
But Paul Pierce won’t be suiting up against his former team in that Dec. 10 game at Barclays Center after the Nets announced Monday that he has a broken right hand that will keep him sidelined for 2-4 weeks.
The Nets said Pierce suffered the injury during the Friday night’s loss to Houston, and that, specifically, it’s a non-displaced fracture of the third metacarpal of the right hand, his shooting hand.
With Pierce sidelined next week, it likely means that the Nets’ Jan. 26 game against the Celtics at TD Garden will be the first regular-season game Pierce plays against his former team. Pierce did play in a preseason game against the Celtics in Brooklyn in October.
Though Pierce was a Celtic for 15 years before he was traded to Brooklyn this offseason along with Kevin Garnett, the Celtics didn’t seem to be too broken up about his injury.
“I thought this was Celtics talk?” Jared Sullinger joked when asked about Pierce after practice Monday. “Paul’s a good guy and I wish the best for him. But we gotta worry about our season, too.”
Indeed, the Celtics have their own issues beyond reunion games, starting with trying to beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday at TD Garden.
Still, they expressed their share of sympathy for their ex-teammate after learning of his injury.
“I just feel like it’s an unfortunate situation for Paul,” forward Brandon Bass said. “Like I said, if I was in his position, I would live for that moment to come back and be able to play on my home court, for playing here so long, it’s just an unfortunate situation that he’s in.”
Courtney Lee also raved about Pierce’s impact on the Celtics’ franchise.
“Not only just to me, but this whole organization, Paul meant a lot,” the Celtics guard said. “He was here pretty much his whole career and, just as a player, you watch his professionalism, him being one of the first guys here in the weight room and out here getting shots. He was the leader by example in that sense, so you followed him in that way.”
But it’s not as though Lee will miss playing Pierce next week.
“If he’s not playing, then that betters our chances of winning, so let him sit down,” Lee said.
Pierce, a 10-time All-Star with the Celtics, is averaging a career-low 12.4 points in his first season with the Nets. He’s shooting just 36.8 percent from the field and 26.8 percent from 3-point range.
Pierce is struggling, and but so too are the Nets.
Despite a collection of All-Stars and a $190 million roster, the Nets are an underwhelming 5-12 this season, tied for the third-worst mark in the Eastern Conference.
They’ve also had plenty of injury issues, with Deron Williams (ankle), Andrei Kirilenko (back), and Jason Terry (knee) missing time.