The Boston Celtics (10-12, 5-7 away) visit the Brooklyn Nets (6-14, 2-6 home) on Tuesday night at the Barclays Center. Here's what to watch for:
RENEWING ACQUAINTANCES: The Celtics and Nets are intertwined this season -- and for the foreseeable future -- after the summer swap that sent Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn in exchange for a package of players and future draft picks. There should be extra emotions (and motivation) on both sides, most notably with Garnett playing his former squad for the first time (Pierce, too, if he suits up despite recovering from a broken hand). Neither team is going to want to lose this game after the laundry swap this summer.
BAD TIMES IN BROOKLYN: It seems impossible for a Garnett team, but the Nets rank 29th in the league in defensive rating (107.9 points per 100 possessions) and 25th in defensive rebound percentage. Brooklyn is in the bottom third of the league in most of the major advanced stats categories -- except for turnover percentage (where they are fighting to stay in the front half of the league at 14th overall). The Nets are last in 3-point field goal defense (41.3 percent) and 26th in points allowed per game (102.3). Boston's offense has been crisp the last three games and must take advantage of Brooklyn's woes in order to keep its momentum going.
CALL AND RESPONSE: The big theme in the Celtics' locker room after Sunday's 41-point thrashing of the New York Knicks was how Boston couldn't get too high off the win. Coach Brad Stevens said it again at Monday's practice. "It counts as one. So we just told the players, 'It counts as one for us, counts as one for them.' Unfortunately, days like that, you don’t get more points for it. So we just move forward and hopefully play well [vs. Brooklyn]." Boston has won six of its last eight, including its last three. But the Celtics have shown they can't take their foot off the gas.
WHAT ELSE?: On the injury front, will Deron Williams and/or Pierce suit up for Brooklyn? Stevens is prepping for Williams' possible return "Obviously, we’re playing a team with great great talent... [and] is getting, probably, one of the better players in the NBA back tomorrow [in Williams]. You add all this stuff together, and you got your hands full." ... Rookie Kelly Olynyk could return from an eight-game absence for Boston, but was waiting to see how his ankle responds to Monday's workout.