Tonight will be about much more than just the Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Clippers, as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett face off against their former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers for the first time since they went their separate ways over the summer.
And that is exactly how the Nets should want it.
On a night when Brooklyn will be without point guard Deron Williams, who sprained his left ankle last night in Phoenix, and possibly center Brook Lopez with what may be an ankle injury as well, this sort of extra motivation for two of coach Jason Kidd’s other centerpieces could turn out to be what ultimately propels the Nets to a very unlikely victory against one of the league’s best teams in the Clippers.
While there still seems to be more than enough love left between Rivers and the current Nets – along with Ray Allen – that led the Celtics to a championship in 2008 and another Finals appearance in 2010, Pierce and Garnett need to perform as though they want Rivers to eat his heart out and realize these two future Hall of Famers are now his enemies on the court.
Understanding how Pierce and Garnett have operated over the years, they’ll know how to maintain control while playing with added incentive. They won’t go about it recklessly and cost the Nets any hopes of coming out victorious.
Who knows how many times the two sides will meet over time, but one thing is for certain, the competitive juices will be flowing like Niagara Falls every time they do.