BOSTON – New Celtics coach Brad Stevens has a week to figure out his starting lineup before Boston opens the regular season and he may use every bit of that time.
The Celtics closed out their first preseason under Stevens on Wednesday night with a 101-97 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, who rested a lot of their lineup including former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Boston (2-6) opens the regular season Oct. 30 at Toronto.
"I wouldn't call any of our lineups definitive — as definitive as I'd like. But I think we're moving in a good direction playing together," said Stevens, the former Butler coach who turned 37 on Tuesday. "It's going to be a day-by-day process. That's the way it's going to have to be with this group."
Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass scored 16 points apiece and Vitor Faverani added 15 points and seven rebounds for Boston. Gerald Wallace had 14 points and five assists and Jeff Green scored 12 points for the Celtics.
Tyshawn Taylor scored 15 points and Reggie Evans finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Nets (4-2).
Regardless of the outcome of Wednesday's game, Boston sports fans weren't going to be talking much about it on Thursday.
With the Red Sox opening the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals just a few miles up the Charles River at Fenway Park, turnout was light for the Celtics' final preseason game. And any fans who came to welcome back Pierce and Garnett were disappointed as the former Celtics greats joined many other Nets veterans in a night of rest.
Pierce and Garnett should make their return to Boston when the Nets visit the Celtics on Jan. 26. Jason Terry, who also went to the Nets in the draft-night blockbuster trade, did play and finished with seven points and three assists in 24 minutes.
"It was special just to see some of my fans that were courtside that I used to talk to and throw headbands and stuff to," he said. "They gave me a warm welcome and that was good."
All-Star point guard Deron Williams dressed, but did not play because of a right ankle injury that has kept him out of every preseason game. The Nets close the exhibition season Friday at Miami.
Jared Sullinger was sick and didn't play for Boston.
And the players who did compete were almost a side note as Red Sox highlights periodically showed up on the scoreboard monitor and drew louder cheers than the basketball game, which was close throughout.
Mirza Teletovic hit a 3-pointer to pull the Nets within 93-92 late in the fourth, but the Celtics scored the next six points and held on.
The Nets opened the game on a 7-0 run and led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter. Brooklyn took a 30-21 lead on a free throw by Evans early in the second quarter, then Lee made a 3-pointer to open a Boston run and the Celtics outplayed the Nets the rest of the half.
Boston closed the quarter on a 12-4 run and led 49-44.
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo missed the preseason while rehabilitating a torn ligament in his right knee. He said after the game that he's been fitted for his first brace and hopes to begin contact drills soon. He has not set a timetable for his return.
"I hope I can play against the Raptors, but that's not likely," he said. "I know it's getting stronger each week."