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Monday, January 27, 2014
Notebook: 'This town gets it'

By Chris Forsberg

BOSTON -- Truth be told, after feeling the energy inside TD Garden on Sunday night, Boston Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens finds himself wondering at times what it might be like to play in that environment when his team has restored itself to contender status.

AP Photo/Steven SennePaul Pierce returned to Boston Sunday as a member of the Nets.
On this night, however, the buzz surrounded the opposition as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett returned to Boston for the first time since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets during a summer blockbuster that ushered in the Celtics' rebuilding process.

Stevens appreciated the way Boston fans responded to Pierce and Garnett and saluted them for their accomplishments here, including restoring championship basketball with Banner 17 in 2008.

“The only thing I could say is what I said on the bench, and that is, 'This town gets it,'" Stevens said. "You know, this town is special and you can see why. And all the people that have gotten a chance to play here and that you talk to, whether they played here for a year or whether they played here for 15 years, all talk about how special it is. And you know that coming in, but you can feel it on nights like tonight. And it was really a great tribute to both guys, obviously extremely well-deserved. I wish we could’ve come out on top at the end, but we just didn’t quite have enough from a basketball standpoint to finish it."

Pierce and Garnett providing key late-game baskets as the Nets withstood Boston's late rally and emerged with an 85-79 triumph.

True to his word, Stevens rushed his team out of the huddle twice in the first half to allow his players an opportunity to see the tributes to Garnett and Pierce, and applaud those players for what they did for the organization.

Asked what Garnett and Pierce might have been thinking during the tributes, Celtics captain Rajon Rondo replied, "If you know those guys, they’re competitors. Obviously, they’re very grateful for this opportunity to play and become a Celtic and the years they’ve had here. They left a great legacy. But they’re locked in. They respect what happened, with their acknowledgement, their video tribute. But, like I said, they still came focused, ready to play."

The tribute certainly didn't soften Garnett all that much, as he spewed plenty of trash talk toward his former teammates.

“It wouldn’t be a game if KG did not smack talk, but it was to a minimum," Brandon Bass said. "He usually does more."

Even in the heat of battle, Stevens reaffirmed that it was important to him for his players to join in the adulation of Boston's former stars.

"It’s the right thing to do," Stevens said. "We see this now, and we can talk about this now, it’s hard when you’re in the moment and you’re coaching the team, but there are bigger things than the next possession. Not much in my life is bigger than the next possession, but that is and we’ll honor that appropriately."

Read on for more postgame notes (including a fizzling final play; another 10-day for Chris Johnson?; and Vitor Faverani's trip to Burger King in Maine):