Both aging veterans were acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics during the 2013 NBA draft, a move designed to bring championship experience and a defensive presence to the Nets lineup.
Pierce and Garnett played sparingly during the preseason, with The Truth averaging just 6.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 19.9 minutes over five games, while KG contributed 4.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 12.2 minutes in four games.
With a combined 33 years of NBA experience between the two future Hall of Famers, there was little reason for head coach Jason Kidd to call upon them often during the exhibition schedule.
That all changes on Wednesday against the Cavs, as the pair will be counted on to anchor the defense of a Nets team that wasn’t so great on that end of the floor last year.
With Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams in the starting lineup to handle the scoring load, Pierce can use his big frame, strength and veteran savvy to guard opposing swingmen and limit their effectiveness.
Pierce may be losing a step at this late stage of his career, but he’s one of the smartest players in the league and knows how to hinder his man into taking bad shots.
As for Garnett, he can concentrate on grabbing every rebound that bounces off the rim, as Lopez has never been great in that category.
KG has averaged a solid 10.5 boards per game during his career, a high number compared to the pitiful 7.4 per contest that the taller Lopez has pulled down.
Fortunately, the Nets incumbent center is great at using his seven-foot, 275-pound frame for boxing out and it easily allows his teammates to crash the glass.
Reggie Evans capitalized last year by snagging 11.1 rebounds per game, so expect Garnett to contribute greatly in that category.
How far will the Nets go this year?
Neither Pierce nor Garnett is going to light up the scoreboard, leaving most of that to Williams and Johnson on the perimeter and Lopez down low. However, neither of them is going to miss an open shot, as The Truth will space the floor as an additional three-point threat and KG is deadly in the mid-range.
Against the Cavs, you can expect to see Pierce put up a handful of points, dish a few dimes, grab some rebounds and have his biggest impact on the defensive end when guarding his man one-on-one.
The Big Ticket should collect a ton of boards, chip in a few points and an assist or two, while also quarterbacking the D and making sure everyone is in position—one of his most underrated assets.
As long as every starter is doing their job, the Nets are going to win plenty of games this year thanks to the addition of these two superstars.