- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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PIERCE'S RETURN, PART II: Old friend Kevin Garnett didn't make the trip because of lingering back spasms, but Paul Pierce is back in Boston again. This won't be quite as emotional as that late-January visit in which the video tributes to Pierce and Garnett overshadowed the game. But it's still Pierce in Boston and that makes the game a bit more intriguing.
ADDED MOTIVATION: PICK IN FOCUS: The Nets struggled early in the season, but have rallied above .500 and currently sit as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston has a vested interest in Brooklyn's regular-season record as the Celtics are almost certainly going to receive the Nets' first-round pick in June (Atlanta has a chance to swap with Brooklyn, but the Hawks currently sit four games back of the Nets). Brooklyn's pick is currently pegged in the middle of the first round and every loss helps Boston's cause a bit.
LOOSE BALLS: Pierce isn't the only former Celtic back in Boston. Jason Collins, who played 32 games for the Celtics last season before being traded for Jordan Crawford at the deadline, is helping the Nets this season (Brooklyn is 5-1 since he signed). ... STATS LLC notes that Brooklyn has won 15 of 16 against teams which are currently under .500. Boston has dropped seven straight and 23 of 25 against opponents that have winning records. ... The Celtics are coming off a 20-point shellacking from the Golden State Warriors. Jeff Green said the team doesn't "want to keep embarrassing ourselves."