Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce

Snapshots: Pierce back in green

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
Former Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce donned the green again on Sunday when he appeared at Fenway Park to help the Boston Red Sox salute Derek Jeter.

Clad in a Celtics jacket, Pierce was among a collection of Boston sports stars on hand to greet Jeter during the final game of his career. Pierce, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets last summer, signed with the Washington Wizards this offseason.

A couple glimpses of Pierce in green again:

Pierce to Wizards on 2-year deal

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
Former Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce is set to sign with the Washington Wizards:
After a short stay in Brooklyn, Paul Pierce is heading to the Washington Wizards.

Sources close to the process told on Saturday that Pierce has committed to sign a two-year, $11 million deal with the Wizards, who moved swiftly to find a title-tested replacement for Trevor Ariza after Ariza struck an agreement earlier in the day to join the Houston Rockets.

The contract, sources said, has a player option after this season that will allow Pierce, 36, to return to free agency next summer if he chooses.

The short-term nature of the deal, meanwhile, could help Washington preserve some flexibility for its dream scenario of pursuing DC native Kevin Durant when the current Oklahoma City Thunder star is scheduled to be a free agent in the summer of 2016.

Pierce, a 10-time All-Star, took to Twitter early Sunday morning.

[Read full story]

Rapid reaction: Pierce delivers a bit of a shocker, shunning the more established contenders to join an intriguing Wizards team on the rise. Many thought Pierce, traded from Boston to Brooklyn last summer, would end up with Doc Rivers with the Los Angeles Clippers or back alongside Kevin Garnett with the Nets. But Pierce took modest money (two years, $11 million) to help replace Trevor Ariza with the Wizards and should be exactly the veteran presence that team needs to have a chance in the changing Eastern Conference. Pierce's departure from Brooklyn only makes last summer's trade with the Nets look better for Boston, which brought back three first-round picks as part of the deal. You can't help but wonder what effect Pierce's decision will have on Kevin Garnett. From ESPN New York:
What does this mean for KG? We will soon find out. The Nets still expect Garnett to return this season for the final year of his contract worth $12 million.

But Garnett could return and be unhappy. He clearly did not envision playing for the Nets without Pierce and Kidd when he waived his no-trade clause last summer. Garnett may be in the twilight of his career and maybe a 20-minute-a-night player who plays 50-60 games and sits on back-to-backs at this point. But he’s still an asset as far as being a positive influence on younger teammates and a mentor to the likes of Lopez and Mason Plumlee.

If Garnett returns and doesn’t like the situation, both sides could opt to try and seek a trade later in the season. We will have to wait and see if Garnett does return and how happy he will be now that his best friend Pierce is gone

For those that dream of Pierce coming home to Boston to end his playing career, his new deal is expected to include a player option that could allow him to return to free agency next summer (when the Celtics could be looking to add a veteran wing as part of their own push to return to contender status). -- Chris Forsberg

Pondering Pierce's future

May, 16, 2014
May 16
CHICAGO -- The Boston Celtics' brain trust spent Thursday observing potential future additions at the NBA's draft combine in Chicago, but chatter about the team often turned to its past given the recent playoff ouster of the Brooklyn Nets and old friends Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

David Richard/USA TODAY SportsWhat does the future hold for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett after Brooklyn's season ended Wednesday?
Is this it for Garnett? What does the future hold for Pierce? Just as it was for Celtics for much of the 2013-14 season, Garnett and Pierce remain close at mind as the Green navigate a rebuilding process aimed at restoring the contender status that existed throughout the Big Three era.

Celtics fans are well versed in the annual KG speculation. We should know how it goes by now and Garnett will silently retreat to Malibu and ponder his future after 19 years in the league. Even with $315 million in career earnings, the soon-to-be 38-year-old Garnett has 12 million reasons to return to the court despite his struggles this past season.

Pierce's future is a bit more intriguing, particularly as he prepares to become an unrestricted free agent. Speculation is already running rampant:
Though Pierce, a free agent to be, walked through the Nets' practice gym on the team's breakup day without speaking to reporters, it was impossible to miss that the 16-year veteran was wearing a Boston Red Sox hat that seemed to send a loud-and-clear message: His intended audience was Boston. He wants to go back. And he didn't care if the bad optics offended anyone on his last day as a Net.

Pierce wouldn't commit to returning to the Nets after they lost their second-round series to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, even though he said he wants to play one or two more years. Yet he had no problem earlier this season speaking at length about how he'd love to finish his playing days with the Celts.

[ESPN New York: Pierce, Garnett experiment a letdown]

When asked about a potential return to Boston earlier this season, Pierce didn't rule out the possibility, but suggested that was more likely to occur after his playing days. Pierce has said he envisions a possible front office role with the Celtics when he hangs up his hightops and you can easily imagine that scenario (think Jason Varitek and his special assistant to the GM role with the Red Sox).


Which team do you think Paul Pierce will sign with this offseason?


Discuss (Total votes: 4,427)

But Pierce returning to Boston to close out his playing career? We've pondered that scenario recently and, unless there's some serious fireworks from the Celtics early this offseason, it simply seems unlikely that Pierce would desire to finish his playing days without a surefire chance to compete for a title.

Pierce, who will turn 37 before the start of next season, showed during the 2013-14 season that there's still plenty left in his tank. Former coach Doc Rivers often suggested that Pierce could play until he's 50 because of his crafty nature. Nostalgic Celtics fans, punch drunk from a 57-loss rebuilding season, will fantasize about Pierce returning to provide the sort of veteran leadership that could aid Boston's younger players, but Pierce's focus at this stage of his career is almost certainly on adding the titles that would cement his NBA legacy.

Our gut tells us Pierce is more likely to end his playing days with a top title contender. If Garnett elects to return to Brooklyn for that final season of his current contract, Pierce will feel a strong pull to stay alongside his good friend, the one that he talked into the summer blockbuster that delivered the duo from Boston, despite the Nets' future uncertainty.

If Garnett rides off into the sunset, Pierce will find no shortage of interest from contending teams. He'll almost certainly feel a strong pull from the West Coast, especially if Rivers phones to recruit him for a Clippers team that met the same disappointing second-round demise as the Nets despite similar championship aspirations.

Pierce, an Inglewood native, would likely be intrigued by the idea of playing back home. Dare we ponder if he might even consider closing out his playing days with a (gulp) Lakers team that he once feverishly cheered as a child? (Don't fret about that quite yet, Celtics fans, as the Lakers need plenty of their own fireworks to make Pierce truly consider that).

Ultimately, the Celtics need to remain locked on the future rather than dwelling on the past. The idea of a Pierce return is fun to consider, but Boston's focus right now should be on identifying the players that can lead the team the way Pierce did in his 15 seasons here.

If nothing else, Pierce already did his part to aid Boston's future. The three first-round draft picks delivered in that deal will go a long way toward helping the Celtics return to contender status, while the Nets might have paid a hefty ransom for five playoff wins.

[Additional reading: Pierce: One or two more years left | Nets Summer Scoop]

Grantland: History of Pierce vs. LeBron

May, 6, 2014
May 6
Grantland: Pierce vs. LeBron

Tonight, the latest chapter in a rivalry that has spanned six years, four teams, all types of dramatic fourth-quarter duels, all manners of grit-n-grind loose-ball dives, and at least one salacious May-December (rumored!) romance, opens. Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals. And so tonight, once again (for the 26th time, to be exact), Paul Pierce and LeBron James will duke it out in a playoff game. Now, let us take a trip down memory lane!

The Prelude

Their personal playoff trajectories wouldn’t line up until 2008, but way before the stakes were high, these dudes were chippy. As Brian Windhorst writes in this great 2012 piece on the rivalry, it started in LeBron’s rookie year, during a game in which Pierce had laid down a hard foul on James, then quickly started chattering with “Otis Carter, the father of James’ friend Maverick Carter and someone whom James considers an uncle.”

LeBron would net 37, a rookie high, but Pierce one-upped him with 41 and Boston won the game. Reports Windhorst, “He told James late in the game he needed to tell Carter to be quiet or he’d go for 50 points. Or at least that is how the story goes.” Mixing it up not with the dude, but with the dude’s uncle? Arguably one of the more Paul Pierce–ish moves of all time. Even when he was a young man, he was an old man.

There were two more notable regular-season incidents, via Windhorst. In 2004, during a preseason game at Ohio State, “Pierce spit toward the Cavs’ bench, for which he was later fined $15,000 … in the dressing room area after the game … tempers flared again in the hallway [and] Pierce’s teammates had to literally carry him away to prevent an altercation.” And in 2006, the two would have a tête-à-tête in Boston, to the tune of 43 for The King and 50 for The Truth.

[Read full story on]
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesIt's LeBron James vs. Paul Pierce, again.
We've told this story before, but it seems appropriate again now...

In the aftermath of Boston's 2007-08 championship season, the Celtics held a championship DVD viewing party at the Legends Club inside TD Garden. While most players mingled, Paul Pierce sat at the bar, a glass of wine in hand, and shook his head as he watched highlights from Boston's second-round triumph over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Man, LeBron is a beast," Pierce sighed to no one in particular while watching another slow-motion sequence in which James and Pierce drew cringe-worthy contact, sweat droplets scattering in every direction with every car-crash type collision.

And now they'll meet again, and you might as well call them the Brooklyn Celtics because it's clear who Boston will be rooting for when the Nets and Heat meet in the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals.

How does Pierce feel about another joust with James? From our friends at ESPN New York:
There won’t be happy feelings when Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett renew their rivalry with LeBron James and the Miami Heat. But it certainly feels like old times all over again with LeBron battling Pierce and Garnett in a best-of-seven series.

“Yeah, it’s seeming like that, eh?” Garnett said after the Nets survived 104-103 in a Game 7 win over Toronto. “It seems like that. It seems like we’re seeing [Dwyane] Wade and LeBron for the past seven, eight years.

“That’s what it is, man,” Garnett continued. “The best is playing the best. All right? You guys take it easy.”

Let the rivalry start up again. The two former Celtics will be facing James for the fifth time in seven postseasons, dating back to when James was a Cleveland Cavalier.

Garnett and Pierce have split the four meetings with James but haven't beaten their nemesis since he joined the Heat. In the 25 playoff games they have played during those four series, Pierce and Garnett are 12-13 overall against James. Their last playoff meeting in 2012 went seven games, with Miami surviving against Boston in the Eastern Conference finals.

Pierce relishes every opportunity he gets to play against James. This season, Pierce averaged 21 points against Miami and helped lead the Nets to a regular-season sweep (4-0) of the Heat. It was the first time James has lost four straight to a team in a regular season in his career.

“I rank LeBron as one of the greatest players to ever play the game,” Pierce said. “A tremendous athlete, four-time MVP, two-time champion, he’s already passed so many greats that we still talk about. And when you play against the best, as a competitor, you want those moments.

“I consider myself a great competitor who wants to be in those moments, who wants to play against who people call the best,” Pierce added. “Just over the years matching up with him, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, all the guys who were in my era who were great wing men, you want those moments.”
ESPN New York: Pierce, KG meet King James ... again

Video: Pierce's block saves Nets

May, 4, 2014
May 4

Old friend Paul Pierce blocks the shot of Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry as time expires to help the Brooklyn Nets advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Now Pierce and Kevin Garnett will lead Brooklyn into a matchup against the Miami Heat. Pretty safe to say most Celtics fans will temporarily adopt the Nets.

Here's more on Pierce's block from ESPN New York:
TORONTO -- A scowling Paul Pierce strutted down the Air Canada Centre floor, doing his signature fist pump while unleashing a primal scream that would make even Kevin Garnett flinch.

This is what it's like to see a dinosaur roar above 20,547 in Toronto.

After starting this first-round series in Toronto with his Game 1 daggers, Pierce finished the Raptors in Game 7 with a series-clinching block on Kyle Lowry as time expired, sending the Brooklyn Nets into the second round with a breathtaking 104-103 victory.

In his accomplished career, the 36-year-old Pierce has authored some amazing playoff moments, but none quite like this. Known for delivering clutch playoff daggers, the old man nicknamed "The Truth" won a series looking like Dikembe Mutombo.

A finger wag was the only thing missing.

“Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time,” Pierce said. “And I was there tonight.”

[The Truth prevails to book Nets' Miami trip]

Garnett, Pierce feel for former coach Rivers

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce say they feel for what their former coach, Doc Rivers, is going through now as he tries to navigate the Clippers through unprecedented controversy.

“Definitely, it’s a tough situation,” Pierce said. “Your owner is labeled as a racist. You’re a head black coach, head president. It’s a tough situation to work for somebody like that so it’s hard to be in that situation this time of the year, so much on the line.

“But I know Doc is very headstrong and he’ll work it out.”

Garnett said he has sent his support to Rivers.

“I think it’s important for obviously players to be unified,” Garnett said. “The Sterlings of the world obviously exist. Sports brings cultures together. We need to focus on that.

“If any coach can deal with it, he can,” Garnett added. “Doc is one of the most resilient coaches I’ve ever played for. Not just helped me out as a player but helped me out as a young man, helped me as a better father and a better person. I hope that he is able to spread some of that to his players and his organization.”

As things have turned out, Garnett might be glad he didn’t end up a Clipper last summer.

Garnett was mentioned in a potential side deal to Rivers’ pact to join the Clippers last year. In the end, only Rivers ended up with the Clippers while former Celtics Garnett and Pierce became Brooklyn Nets.

Garnett was asked if he would’ve wanted to become a Clipper and follow Rivers knowing what he knows now about owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life by NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday.

“I’m a Net,” Garnett said after Nets practice. “I don’t focus on almost. In high school, I never dealt with the chick that almost wanted to go out with me.”

Pierce lends a hand to Rondo, C's

March, 8, 2014
Mar 8
BOSTON -- Rajon Rondo doesn't always let opposing players help his teammates up off the floor -- just last Saturday he pushed Indiana's Roy Hibbert out of the way to peel Jeff Green off the parquet on his own. But there are exceptions.

Winslow Townson/USA TODAY SportsPaul Pierce exchanged pregame pleasantries with Rajon Rondo before offering a rare in-game assist.
Like when it's old friend Paul Pierce sticking out his hand to pick Rondo up after putting him on the floor late in the first half of Friday's Celtics-Nets tilt at TD Garden. Fans roared and Pierce smiled wide after he pulled Rondo up and patted him on the rear.

Just the former captain looking out for the new one.

A couple hours later, in the still-odd confines of the visitors' locker room, Pierce praised Rondo while assessing the new captain's ability to lead Boston back to contender status.

"In the end, me and Rondo share a special bond," said Pierce. "We'll always be friends, we'll always have something in common with our championship, our kids still hang out together."

Amid the heartfelt words came a brief moment of levity.

Pierce said their children "hung out for [Rondo's] birthday, actually," giving himself a good belly laugh knowing full well the hoopla that ensued in these parts after Rondo skipped a trip to Sacramento last month to celebrate his birthday in Los Angeles.

Turning serious again, Pierce offered, "Rondo, I respect him and what he's doing moving forward with this franchise and it will always be that way."

If the Nets' January visit was one of emotion and indulgence for Pierce, this time around it was all about his former squad. Pierce and the Nets were ice cold shooting and the Celtics overcame their own sloppiness to emerge with a 91-84 triumph.

Pierce said it's always emotional returning to Boston, but that this visit couldn't compare to his first game back in a Nets uniform. He savored that night and the tribute video that rolled, allowing him to reflect on his 15 seasons with the Celtics.

This time around, Pierce spent most of his postgame chat with reporters gushing about Rondo and Boston's future.

"They are a young team, they got a mix of some veterans, some young guys they are developing and they are only going to get better," said Pierce. "Rondo is leading them right now, moving into the next generation of Celtics. I think their future is going to be very bright."

(Read full story)

Rapid Reaction: Celtics 91, Nets 84

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7

BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets 91-84 on Friday night at TD Garden:

The nitty gritty: Rajon Rondo put up 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, while Jerryd Bayless added 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals (while finishing a team-best plus-16) to help the Celtics to only their second win in their past nine tries. Jared Sullinger grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds as Boston dominated the glass (finishing with a 51-28 advantage) against undersized Brooklyn. Joe Johnson scored a team-high 21 points on 9-of-21 shooting, while Deron Williams added 20 points for the Nets. Former Celtics captain Paul Pierce finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 assist in 21 minutes.

Turning point: The Celtics led by 12 at halftime and as much as 18 early in the third quarter, but the Nets were so cold in the first half, you figured they had to charge at some point. Sure enough, Brooklyn embarked on a 22-6 run to surge within two (70-68) with two minutes to play in the third frame. Fortunately for Boston, the Nets went ice cold again and Boston extended its lead back to 11 just two minutes into the fourth quarter after consecutive buckets by Bayless. The Nets never truly threatened again as Boston posted a wire-to-wire victory.

Loose balls: The Nets shot just 36.3 percent from the field overall (29-of-80) and, after missing 16 straight 3-pointers to start the game, finished 4-of-30 beyond the arc (13.3 percent). … Boston turned the ball over a whopping 28 times but limited the damage (26 points) and shot 44.3 percent from the floor overall. … Rondo made three first-quarter 3-pointers while setting a new career-high for 3-pointers in a season. … Phil Pressey deserves a nod for being plus-15 in 13 minutes of floor time.

What it means: The Celtics (21-41) snapped a two-game losing streak. They're also likely to climb a bit in the standings after entering with the fourth-worst record in basketball. Boston wraps up this five-game homestand on Sunday with a visit from the Detroit Pistons. A trip to Indiana looms on Tuesday before the Celtics return home for visits from the New York Knicks (Wednesday) and Phoenix Suns (Friday).

MacMullan: Pierce goes home again

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
BOSTON -- Paul Pierce was coming home, but if the pillars have been removed and the foundation has been replaced, is it still his house?

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce salutes the Boston crowd after a tribute video to him was played.
The answer, in a TD Garden awash in memories and emotion, was unequivocally yes.

A capacity crowd pulsing with energy and nostalgia embraced both Pierce and his trusted friend Kevin Garnett upon their first return to Boston since they were traded to the Brooklyn Nets last July.

On this night, the performance of their plucky Celtics team was of secondary importance. The fans not only cheered wildly as video tributes for each future Hall of Famer unfolded on the video screen high above the court (including a young woman who sobbed during the montage of the Truth's greatest moments), they celebrated every time Pierce touched the ball, passed it to a teammate or simply checked into the game.

They even saluted him when he was on the bench. One of the more surreal moments of Sunday's lovefest was when chants of "Paul Pierce" wafted through the building as Celtics forward Kris Humphries tried to shoot a pair of free throws for the home team.

It was not without irony that Humphries was one of the players traded for Pierce, although the real haul was the future first-round draft picks, the promise of a new day. That's what convinced Danny Ainge to ship Boston's second all-time leading scorer out of town.

It was a devastating blow to a proud, proud man who thought he'd earned the right to stay forever.

It was never his intent to step onto the parquet in black-and-silver Brooklyn colors, to dress in the opposing dressing room, to try to beat the only franchise he'd ever known.

"This was the toughest game I've ever had to play," Pierce conceded. "Tougher than any championship, tougher than any Game 7."

Although Pierce and KG had mentally prepared themselves for this trip and the inevitable emotional tug of war it would entail, it was completely and utterly disarming. All those No. 34 and No. 5 jerseys, all those "Celtic for Life" signs, all those standing ovations. How were they expected to concentrate?

(Read full story)

Video: KG, Pierce tributes

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
BOSTON -- A look at the Boston Celtics tribute videos for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from inside TD Garden during Sunday's homecoming:





Hop HERE to see Garnett and Pierce introduced to a loud ovation before the game.

Pierce, KG brace for Boston return

January, 26, 2014
Jan 26
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsPaul Pierce and Rajon Rondo exchanged preseason pleasantries in Brooklyn. Boston is another story.
During the heyday of the Boston Celtics' most recent Big Three era, there was a video clip of Larry Bird talking about Boston fans that used to run as players took the court for pregame warm-ups.

Kevin Garnett, already dripping with sweat and intensity while preparing for that night's game, would never look up at the video board (the only time he allowed himself that was when Gino was dancing away the final minutes of another lopsided victory), but Garnett heard every word spoken.

"It's funny, they have a little pregame thing they used to always [play]," Garnett explained. "I used to always hear Larry Bird. I would never look up, but I would hear it. Larry would say, 'You can't fool the people of Boston. They know when you're working hard, they know pure basketball.' And that's right. When you go all out, they understand that and they root for that, and that's what they remember."

On Sunday evening, 214 days after the Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets originally agreed to the blockbuster trade that ended the Boston tenure of Garnett and Paul Pierce, the two players return to TD Garden for the first time to play against their former team.

It's been suggested that the Celtics ought to hand out complimentary boxes of Kleenex as fans enter the building. We've been down this path before, with Boston fans having saluted the efforts of other recent heroes from the Big Three era and the 2008 title team. Boston fans roared for Eddie House, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins and even put rivalries aside when Ray Allen returned as a member of the Miami Heat.

In December, Doc Rivers was overcome with emotions when the team honored him after the first quarter of his first game back to Boston as coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. Rivers later noted his Boston return was as emotional as he gets, and he had to collect himself numerous times after the game while simply discussing the in-game tribute.

Now, Pierce and Garnett must endure the same.

(Read full story)

Rondo, C's won't shed tears for KG, Pierce

January, 25, 2014
Jan 25
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Members of the Boston Celtics will pause twice during Sunday's visit from the Brooklyn Nets to honor Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett during their first game back at TD Garden, but don't expect Boston players to get overly emotional. Boston players have moved on from the departure of the two Celtics legends and are more focused on how to get this team back to contender status in the future than dwelling on past success.

The Celtics are expected to run two video tributes with Garnett first (likely at the game's first timeout) then Pierce (likely after the first quarter). Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens said he'll hurry his team in and out of the huddle at those breaks in order to appropriately acknowledge what those players meant to the organization.

But no need to save a box of tissues for Rajon Rondo, the only holdover from that Big Three era and the guy who won a title with Pierce and Garnett.


What's your reaction to the returns of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to TD Garden?


Discuss (Total votes: 8,346)

"Have you seen me tear before?" asked Rondo. Told no, he smiled and offered, "OK then."

Rondo admitted that Pierce and Garnett laid the blueprint for how to be a successful team and taught him how to be a professional. But, like most of his teammates, the sight of those two players in Brooklyn's black-and-white uniforms is no longer staggering and Rondo is more focused on finding a way to slow an opponent that has won nine of its last 10 overall.

"Just like I played against [Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins on Friday] night," said Rondo. "There might be a lot of [expletive]-talking, but it’ll be fun. They are competitors, they compete. And I’ll do the same."

Truth be told, these Celtics players are rather divorced from the emotional aspect of Sunday's meeting and they are hoping to take advantage of any loss in focus for Pierce and Garnett.

"It's not a big deal for us; this is a big deal for [the media]," said Brandon Bass, who spent two years with Pierce and Garnett. "It’s more of a big deal for Paul and Kevin, we understand that. ... Hopefully it helps us get a win. That’s what really matters for us."

Echoed Jeff Green: "For me, I've already seen them [in Brooklyn], we already talked, [the emotional aspect is] more for them than for us. It’s going to be emotional for them, coming back for first time. But, for me, we’ve already said our hellos and talked. That has already taken place. It’s just another game against Brooklyn. I'm pretty much over it now."

Stevens reaffirmed that he doesn't know Pierce and Garnett personally, but, "just being a member of the organization, you're thankful for what they did." Stevens acknowledged there will be emotions for those players, and maybe for some of the veterans players still on Boston's roster (at least more than they'll admit), but, "we still have a game to play and that’s what we’re going to prepare to do."

It's important to Stevens to allow his players the opportunity to watch the tributes, just like he did when former coach Doc Rivers returned to Boston in December and when Bill Russell was honored at the home opener in November.

"We’ll get into the huddle and out of the huddle pretty quickly so that they can appropriately honor those guys and it’s what you have to do," said Stevens. "At the same time, then we’ve got to turn our mindset to playing as well as we can against them. Because those guys, first and foremost, achieved what they achieved here because they are competitive guys and they want to do well, too. We’re going to have to be in that mindset, too."

Added Stevens: "There are moments that are big, obviously, in a game. I think we all get caught up in a game. There are bigger things than the game itself. So, again, I don't think it’s anything out of the ordinary that we would do [stopping to watch the tributes]. We’ll get in and out of the huddle as quickly as we can."

Garnett, Pierce ready for emotional visit

January, 25, 2014
Jan 25
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are already bracing themselves for an emotional return to Boston on Sunday night.

Jordan Johnson/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce and Kevin Garnett visit Boston for the first time on Sunday.
The Brooklyn Nets won for the ninth time in 10 games on Friday with a 107-106 triumph over the Dallas Mavericks at the Barclays Center. But after the game, the focus swung almost immediately to how Pierce and Garnett will play their first game in Boston since the summer blockbuster that delivered them to New York.

"I just know that the emotions will probably be high, just because of the success that we had while we were in Boston," Garnett told reporters in Brooklyn following Friday's win. "We had some really good years there, some really promising years. I think it’s going to be forever, we’re embedded in it. ... I think anybody who’s part of that run and part of that era will always be remembered. Bostonians, New Englanders, they understand that and they never forget their favorites. We was fortunate to be part of that whole transformation.

"Some things are forever, man," Garnett added. "I’m happy to say that I'm part of that era."

Garnett spent most of his seven-minute postgame interview reflecting on his six seasons in Boston, alternating between nostalgia and playfully curiosity in advance of Sunday's visit.

"It’ll be good to be back in Boston," Garnett said. "I hear it’s freezing as s---. No different from New York. East Coast is East Coast. But, for the most part, it should be fun to go back and see what happens."

Added Garnett: "It’ll be what it is, man. I’m going to embrace it for whatever it is and I’m sure the emotions are going to be very high. And then I’ll react accordingly. But we’re there to win a game, and I hope this doesn’t overshadow the game. It’ll be good to see [former teammate Rajon] Rondo and some other personal friends that obviously don't play. Other than that, it’s another game that I have to be prepared for."

Alas, it seems impossible that the Garnett/Pierce return won't overshadow the game itself, particularly given the way Brooklyn is playing lately compared to a Boston team that has lost 13 of its past 15 overall.

For his part, Pierce, who elected to skip a preseason game here in October in order to make this his one-time return to the Garden this season, had already begun making plans for Sunday's game.

"I talked to [Celtics travel and equipment manager John Connor] today and I told him I'll probably sit in the equipment room like I used to always do in my 15 years there, who knows," Pierce said. "It's going to be a little weird, though."

Pierce said it would be fun to see all the familiar faces, including season-ticket holders that watched him grow during his 15 years with the Celtics.

"It's going to be a lot of emotions," Pierce said. "You play your whole life there, you win a championship there, I mean, being the first time back. ... It's going to be special. I don't know how I'll react, what emotions are going to be going through my head."

Maybe because of Boston's recent struggles, Celtics players downplayed the impending return of Pierce and Garnett. Asked about Sunday's game, Rondo said simply, "It’s another game. We need the win."

Pierce is glad to have Garnett alongside for the journey back.

"We shared so many memories, on and off the court -- shared our best memories in Boston," Pierce said. "We won a championship and, when you talk about the ride that we had together and the run, a lot of things go through your head, so it's fun to be able to share it with him."

Doc: Expect 'crazy' BOS return for PP, KG

January, 19, 2014
Jan 19
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaDoc Rivers believes Celtics fans will make Jan. 26 a special night for KG and Pierce.
NEW YORK –- Doc Rivers was as emotional as he has ever been after seeing the outpouring of love he received from Celtics fans during his return to Boston in early December.

So the former Celtics coach can only imagine what it will be like when Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett return to Boston for the first time when the Nets visit the Celtics on Jan. 26.

"That's going to be awesome," Rivers said before his Clippers faced the Knicks at the Garden on Friday. "It's going to be crazy. It's going to be awesome for them."

The Nets played the Celtics in the preseason at the TD Garden on Oct. 23, but Pierce and Garnett rested and did not play. Both former Celtics will surely be overwhelmed with emotion in their return to Boston.

Rivers immediately drew an ovation from Boston fans when he emerged from the visitor's tunnel at the TD Garden during his return with the Clippers on Dec. 11. There was a video tribute to Rivers with highlights of the 2008 Celtics title team during the second quarter.

Rivers was still trying to compose himself when talking to reporters well after the game that night.

"Yeah, that's as emotional as I ever [been]," Rivers said. "And that was an amazing night for me. It was awesome."

Rivers said he could only imagine what it will be like for his two former players, especially Pierce, who spent his entire career with the Celtics until a trade to the Nets last summer.

"Paul spent his whole career there and never really wanted to leave," Rivers said. "That will be a neat evening for them, and again, especially for Paul."

Rivers said he expected Celtics fans to give Pierce and Garnett a night they will never forget.

"I think the reason the city loved them both is because they did it right and they did everything they could every night to win a basketball game," Rivers said. "Cities feel that. New York is like that. New York, they say white collar, it's blue collar. You know what I mean? People see that.

"And they saw that in Kevin and Paul. And they were champions. So when you do that for a city, it is going to be received well so they will have a great night."

[Bonus Link: KG on 'Little Bro' Rondo in New York Post]



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Jeff Green
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9