VA New England

Defining Moments: Pierce and Garnett's emotional return to TD Garden

"It was really tough for me to focus today."

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Exactly 10 years ago Friday, it got a little dusty inside TD Garden.

The Boston Celtics hosted the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 26, 2014, for a regular-season game with a little extra meaning. That's because it marked Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett's first game in Boston as visitors since the Celtics traded them to Brooklyn in June 2013.

Pierce and Garnett got rousing ovations from the Garden crowd, which thanked Pierce for his 15-year tenure in Boston and Garnett for his role in helping "The Truth" finally win a championship in 2008. The Nets pulled out an 85-79 win, but both Pierce and Garnett admitted it was hard to focus on basketball in such an emotionally-charged atmosphere.

"Every second you're on the bench, every second you're in the game, people are calling your name. It was really tough for me to focus today," Pierce told reporters.

That loss dropped the Celtics to 15-31 on the season, and they'd go on to finish with just 25 wins in Brad Stevens' first season as head coach. The new-look Nets, meanwhile, advanced to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs before bowing out to LeBron James' Miami Heat.

After that season, though, the scales tipped decidedly in Boston's favor. The Celtics received a total of four first-round picks in that 2013 deal with Brooklyn, and two of them turned into Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who now are franchise cornerstones for the best team in basketball.

The C's have made nine straight playoff appearances since that 2013-14 season, while the Nets missed the playoffs in three of the next four seasons and have advanced past the first round just once in the last decade.

Pierce and Garnett will forever be legends in Boston for returning the Celtics to prominence from 2007 to 2012. They also inadvertently gave the C's a parting gift, as their trade to Brooklyn turbo-charged Boston's rebuild and helped the team return to the East Finals as early as 2017.

You can relive Pierce and Garnett's emotional night at TD Garden in the video player above, courtesy of VA New England.

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