Starting Five: The emotional Truth

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
6:00
AM ET
Paul PierceNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce can't help but feel sentimental toward Boston and the Celtics.
Paul Pierce has already experienced the emotional video presentation and the outpouring of love from Celtics fans.

And yet when Pierce makes his second trip back to Boston to play against the Celtics on Friday, the Nets' swingman will feel a tad sentimental again.

"I think as long as I'm in the NBA, it's still going to be a little emotional for me," Pierce said of playing in Boston. "I played so many regular-season games, so many big games on that floor. So many memories that are never going to go away on that floor."

The Nets beat the Celtics 85-79 on Jan. 26, but Pierce and Kevin Garnett had to do more than just hold off the Celtics in that one. They had to battle their emotions all night in what Garnett referred to as "by far, the hardest day that I had to focus."

This time, though, Pierce will not have Garnett with him. Garnett will miss his fourth straight game because of back spasms and did not make the trip, according to the Nets.

I think as long as I'm in the NBA, it's still going to be a little emotional for me. I played so many regular-season games, so many big games on that floor. So many memories that are never going to go away on that floor.

--Paul Pierce on returning to Boston
The former Celtics duo repeatedly received ovations from fans in the building in which they helped raise a championship banner in 2008.

While Garnett will not be there, another Nets big man will be making his return to Boston. Jason Collins will play his first game in Boston since joining the Nets and becoming the first openly gay player to play in one of North America's four major professional sports.

The 7-foot Collins played 32 games in Boston during part of the 2012-13 season and has fond memories of his short time in the city.

"I think it means a little bit more when KG and [Pierce] go back," Collins said with a chuckle. "I had a great time with the Celtics organization even though I was only with them for half a season last year. A great organization, great time, great fans, looking forward to going back."

This trip should be a bit more business-like for Pierce. But the veteran knows the feelings he'll have to battle whenever he is in that building.

"It's still going to be a little emotional, probably not as much [as last time]," Pierce said. "But when you have that many memories, it's tough to [forget]."

Up now: KG will miss his fourth straight game, but Billy King doesn't expect the big man to be out too long.

The Nets may have just learned what it feels like to be over .500. But they have been playing like a winning team for a bit, and Pierce says they can match up with anybody in the East.

The Nets signed point guard Jorge Gutierrez to a 10-day contract.

Call him “Magic” Blatche.

Net statistic: Mirza Teletovic is trying to shoot his way out of a bit of a slump. Since scoring 13 points against Charlotte on Feb. 12, Teletovic has failed to reach double figures in the nine games since. He is averaging 5.3 points and shooting just 18-of-54 (33 percent) overall and 12-of-40 (30 percent) from beyond the arc during that stretch.

What's next: The Nets are in Boston for a 7:30 tip.

Net question: Do you agree with Pierce that the Nets can match up with any team in the Eastern Conference in a playoff series?
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8