The Brooklyn Nets are red-hot. They’ve won two games in a row, and are now sitting pretty at 7-14 at the end of the first quarter of the season.
On Tuesday, they welcomed back Deron Williams and Paul Pierce back into the lineup. The Nets also used their ninth different starting lineup this season: Williams, Joe Johnson, Alan Anderson, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez.
“But I thought you said Pierce returned?”
Yes, he did. As a sixth-man. Interestingly enough, it was only the fourth time in his career in which Pierce came off the bench. With the way that Pierce has performed this season, is it really the worst thing in the world?
“It’s all a mental approach and how you approach the game,” Pierce said following the Nets’ 104-96 victory over his former team, the Boston Celtics, at Barclays Center.
“If you approach the game looking at the big picture and it’s all about the team and it’s about winning, if that’s what’s best for the team, then so be it. I’m willing to do whatever”
Pierce is averaging 12.4 points on 36.1 percent shooting from the field this season. Maybe the sixth-man role is more suited for him at this point in his career.
If it’s any consolation, Jason Kidd agrees. But maybe that would just discredit this entire premise.
“I liked what I saw,” Kidd said. “I liked him being a leader of that second group. Will I stay that way? I don’t know. We’ll look at the video tomorrow as a team and coaches, but I’ll talk to Paul and see what his comfort level is.”
Pierce, returning after missing the previous five games due to a broken bone in his right hand, finished with four points, seven rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes against the Celtics off the bench.
Williams, who returned to the lineup after a nine-game absence due to a sprained left ankle, finished with a season-high 25 points and seven assists in 37 minutes.
Williams did much more, and played more efficiently than Pierce, but just having him out there on the floor is huge for this team.
The Nets haven’t really beaten “world-beaters” during their two-game winning streak (Bucks, Celtics), but at this point, putting together two wins in a row is huge for them. I’m not sure if we’re looking at a new Nets team, but if they can stay healthy, you never know.