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Pregame: Stevens focused on improvement

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens apologized, but when asked to assess the summer swap between his team and the Brooklyn Nets, and project the value of the three first-round picks the Celtics secured, Stevens said he couldn't look much beyond Friday's visit from Brooklyn.

"That’s all stuff down the road," Stevens said of the draft picks. "And I don’t know that I would really know exactly how to answer that. Because it’s a little bit out of my view right now, as far as what’s really important for us right now today. Hard to tell. I think we’ll be able to better assess that down the road. But right now, we’re trying to play better than we did Wednesday night [when Boston lost by 20 to the Golden State Warriors]. We were playing a good team and, they’ll do that to you if you don’t play well, But our B game is not good enough against teams of that caliber."

The Celtics will stick with their recent starting 5 featuring Rajon Rondo, Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Kris Humphries. The Nets counter with Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Mason Plumlee.

Asked about the job that Pierce has done playing the power forward spot in smaller lineups, Stevens said the idea that the former Boston captain is "undersized" is false.

"I don’t really look at it as a position," he said. "[Pierce is] a player. And great players can play multiple positions a lot of times. They certainly can guard multiple positions. The league is such that, if you can find a 3 man that you can move to the 4, because of his size, body, and intelligence, then that’s a great benefit. You see that when San Antonio goes small with a [Boris] Diaw, you see that when the Heat go small with LeBron [James]. You see it across the league. And, obviously, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’ve hit their stride by playing that way because we say he’s undersized -- it’s not really undersized. He’s bigger than our 4s, for the most part. And we have a few of them. He’s a big strong guy down there and he can hold his own on the block, and then he can really stretch you on offense."