It was an emotional trip back to Beantown for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Per the Boston Herald:
“I was telling Kevin and everybody this was the toughest game I ever had to play — tougher than any championship game, any Game 7,” Pierce said. “This game was really hard to just focus, concentrate on what was at hand. At the end of the day, we had a game to play. But it was hard to really focus. I saw so many friends, so many people I’ve known for years.”
Pierce looked to the back room, spotted Cedric Maxwell, smiled and called him ugly. Then he added, “It was just hard to get into a routine. You have a routine when you come to get ready for a game, and I just never settled in (he was 2-for-10 on the way to six points). You just thought about the times, the friendships, the relationships. We were loved the whole game. You look up and see so many Kevin jerseys, my jerseys. Every second you’re on the bench, every moment you’re on the floor, people are calling your name. It was very difficult to focus today. I’m happy we got it over with and we can go back to playing basketball right now.”
“This was over the top. The only thing that comes to mind is unbelievable,” he said. “I didn’t expect anything like that for myself. It shows the type of organization this is. I couldn’t put it into words. Paul and I were joking before the game about who was going to tear up first, and I had lumps in my throat. I tried to focus as much as I could on the game, but this was over the top. I couldn’t put that into words.” [...] “By far the hardest day that I’ve ever had to focus on something,” he said. “Paul will always love the city of Boston, and I feel the same way. The New Englanders and everyone who ever supported me here, and was nice to my family — obviously they didn’t have to be, but I want to say thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.”
In the end, the final score was inconsequential. Much like when Doc Rivers returned for the first time, Sunday night was about Celtics fans seeing their departed heroes and expressing their appreciation.
Ultimately, it was about saying goodbye.