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Friday, March 7, 2014
W2W4: Nets at Celtics

By Mike Mazzeo

Paul Pierce returns to Boston for a second time when the Nets face the Celtics on Friday night at TD Garden. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

NO KG Kevin Garnett did not make the trip and will miss his fourth straight game because of back spasms. Mason Plumlee will start again in Garnett’s place. The rookie big man has been averaging five points and 5.7 rebounds on 63.6 percent shooting while Garnett has been out. Joe Johnson (illness) will start, according to reporters in Boston. Johnson is averaging 20 points on 62.5 percent shooting in his last two games.

THE TRUTH IS: Pierce thinks going back to Boston will always bring back some emotions. But it won’t be like the first time back on Jan. 26, when the Celtics gave Pierce and Garnett a hero’s welcome. Since Jan. 1, Pierce, who has flourished in a stretch power forward role, is averaging 14.3 points on 45.7 percent shooting. Pierce played his first 15 seasons in Boston, becoming the franchise’s second all-time leading scorer. Jason Collins will also be going back to Boston, though he only played there briefly last season (32 games).

KEEP IT GOING: The Nets (30-29) moved one game above the .500 mark for the first time Wednesday night. Brooklyn has won four in a row overall. The Nets are 20-8 since Jan. 1 -- the best record in the Eastern Conference over that span.

GET IT GOING: Mirza Teletovic is shooting just 27.6 percent from 3-point range since Jan. 26.

D IT UP: Since Jan. 1, the Nets lead the NBA in forced turnovers per game (17.6) and points off turnovers per game (21.1). During their winning streak, the Nets are yielding 90.3 points per game and forcing 22.8 turnovers.

STAT SO: Marcus Thornton became the first Nets reserve to score 15 consecutive points in a game since Johnny Newman (April 14, 2000, versus Orlando), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.