As the Brooklyn Nets continue to turn their season around, there will be no games left that will match the emotion of this one. As Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett made their return to Boston, the Nets were able to grind out a victory over the Celtics on Sunday, 85-79.
The two future Hall of Famer's were traded from Boston to Brooklyn this past offseason. Garnett had been with the franchise since the summer of 2007. For Pierce, Boston was the place he called home for 15 seasons before being sent to Brooklyn. He had never worn anything but a Celtics jersey until this season. Garnett and Pierce helped bring a championship to the city in the 2007-08 season along with the likes of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and coach Doc Rivers.
Now Rondo remains the only member from that squad. The Celtics have struggled all season to a 15-31 record with a depleted roster, a rookie coach in Brad Stevens, and having been without their star point guard until just recently as he returned from a torn ACL suffered last year.
The Nets, dealing with their own plethora of injuries and a rookie coach in Jason Kidd, got off to horrendous start this season as well but have now won 10 of their last 11 games.
Sunday's game was a defensive battle. Neither team could ever get into much of a rhythm offensively. The leading scorers were Brandon Bass from the Celtics and Andray Blatche from the Nets, each finishing with 17 points. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field for the game.
The emotions were high from the get-go. Fans were cheering during the Nets pregame introductions as Garnett and then Pierce were introduced. During the first timeout of the game, Garnett was honored with a video as a tribute with highlights of his time with the Celtics. At the end of the first quarter, Pierce received the same treatment.
Each player struggled to have a big game. Garnett and Pierce, along with Joe Johnson, each scored just six points. Arguably the Nets best players on the night were Blatche, Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Shaun Livingston.
However, Pierce and Garnett each made big plays late. The Truth made a key jumper to put Brooklyn ahead 78-70. The Celtics rallied a bit to make the score 80-77 following a three-pointer by Rondo. Then Garnett made the biggest play of the game. KG stole a pass from his former teammate Rondo and took it all the way for an easy lay-in that sealed the Nets win.
Pierce said after the game, "I've played in game seven's before, championship games, but this is by far the hardest game I've ever had to play in."
"It was, by far, the hardest day that I had to focus," said Garnett.
"Now I can just get back to playing basketball," said Pierce.
Brooklyn's next game is back home on Monday against the Toronto Raptors.
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