BOSTON -- Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will be honored in grand fashion Sunday night, as the two former Celtics greats return to Boston for the first time since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
AN EMOTIONAL EVENING: Loud ovations. Video tributes. Perhaps some tears. You can pretty much expect the works for Pierce and Garnett. Pierce played the first 15 seasons of his career with the Celtics, leaving as the second-leading scorer in franchise history, while Garnett played there for six seasons. The duo won a championship in Boston their first season together (2007-08). After a terrible start to the season, both Garnett and Pierce are playing really good basketball right now.
AND THE GAME: Yes, that too. The Nets (19-22) have won four in a row and are 9-1 in 2014. Deron Williams will likely come off the bench for a fourth straight game, since the Shaun Livingston-Alan Anderson-Joe Johnson-Pierce-Garnett starting lineup is 7-0. Williams is coming off his best performance since returning from ankle injuries: 18 points and 11 assists in 35 minutes. Brooklyn continues to get it done defensively, allowing 101.5 points per 100 possessions.
BEANTOWN: The Celtics have won just three of their past 19 games after starting 12-14. Ex-Nets Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace will get a chance to face their former team yet again. Humphries (7.7 points, 6.0 rebounds) has been playing well. But Wallace’s PER is just 9.77, well below the league average of 15.
ELIAS SAYS: Mirza Teletovic’s career-high 34 points Friday night were the most in a game this season by any non-starter and the most for a Nets sub since Derrick Coleman scored 35 points on Jan. 15, 1992.