Game Preview: Nets at Celtics

BOSTON – The exhibition slate for the Boston Celtics (1-6) comes to a close at 7 p.m. when they host the Brooklyn Nets (4-1) at TD Garden. This will be the second time these teams have met during the preseason, but this meeting will be much different.

Meeting No. 1 took place on October 15 in Brooklyn and doubled as Paul Pierce’s first game against Celtic green. The Nets confirmed this week that both Pierce and Kevin Garnett will rest tonight in order to leave their return to TD Garden for the regular season.

Paul Pierce, Jeff Green

Jeff Green won't be dribbling past Paul Pierce tonight, as the former Celtic is scheduled to rest.
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images Sport

Pierce and Garnett are both listed as out for tonight’s game. Jason Terry, however, is scheduled to make his return to Boston while competing in his first exhibition game of the preseason.

Regardless of who plays or who doesn’t, the Celtics have already shown that they can compete with the Nets. These two teams went down to the wire during their first meeting, with Brooklyn coming out on top 82-80.

Boston had a great opportunity to send that contest into overtime. The C’s had possession of the ball with seven seconds remaining in regulation while trailing by two. Brad Stevens drew up a play to get the ball to Courtney Lee, who had previously nailed consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 80-80. Lee caught an inbound pass in the right corner and his potential game-tying shot rimmed out, leaving the C’s with a two-point defeat.

Lee came off of the bench during that game to be Boston’s top scorer with 14 points. Kris Humphries and Jeff Green, who scored 12 points apiece, followed Lee in the scoring column.

Boston’s only issue during the first meeting was its offense. The Celts shot a woeful 35.6 percent from the field and turned the ball over 22 times.

The story at the other end of the course was much different. Despite allowing Brook Lopez to score 20 points, the Celtics shut down Brooklyn’s offense. The Nets made only 35.5 percent of their shots and only two of their players scored in double-figures. They shot just 3-of-23 (14.3 percent) as a team from long range.

Brad Stevens and his team hope that they can put forth a similar defensive effort tonight. Based on their comments following Tuesday’s practice, they’re right on track to do so.

“I thought it was our, if not our best practice, it was definitely in our top two or three,” Stevens said.

Brandon Bass followed that up by saying, “We had a great practice, I think. A tough practice, competitive practice, and I think we go something accomplished.”

The Celtics plan on bringing that momentum into tonight’s game while also gearing up for the regular season. Stevens said on Tuesday that he will use his planned regular season rotation during at least the first half of tonight’s game. That will give his players a clear depiction of what to expect on Opening Night.

For now, though, the Celtics are concerning themselves most with the task at hand. They want to win their preseason finale, even if the emotions between these two teams have subsided for the time being.