The Celtics are still smarting about two early-season thumpings that left coach Doc Rivers calling his team "soft," while the Nets haven't forgotten Boston's yuletide victory in Brooklyn.
"Well, we’re different and they are too, obviously," said Rivers. "I’m sure their confidence is much higher. When we played them on Christmas Day, they were going through a lot of stuff. They handed it to us pretty well earlier in the year. I think both teams are different."
Echoed Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo: "Obviously Rajon [Rondo] not being here, [Jason Collins] started for them at center last time, [Kevin Garnett is] just coming back [and] we’re playing kind of a different roster now than we were playing then. It’s different. But again, they play the same way. They came in and just lit us up on Christmas Day and we played well the game prior to that up here. I don’t think either of us will do things differently, I just think it’ll be different players."
While coach Doc Rivers has hinted he's got a rest plan in mind for his veterans, it won't come tonight (no surprise given that Boston has had the last two days off). The Celtics will once again trot out their new starting unit of Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Garnett, only the second time that unit has started this season.
Rivers likes the versatility that lineup offers, both on the court, and with an ability to audible to different combinations. The Nets provide an excellent test for a lineup that is as big as Boston gets with a lack of pure size on its roster.
"I like the ability to have that lineup and other lineups instead of just having this 'small lineup' with Jeff at the 4," said Rivers. "We want to have three lineups -- Jeff at the 2, Jeff at the 3, Jeff at the 4. Or if you want to call Paul the 2, I don’t care who you call the 2. I just think it gives us more versatility. This lineup is good. It’s important because it gives us a third lineup, because there’s one lineup we can’t go to, and that’s the very big lineup, like two 7-footers. We’re not going to be able to do that. We need to have as much versatility as possible going into the playoffs to play multiple styles."