RETURN OF DERON: Deron Williams told reporters Monday he will be in the lineup after missing the past nine games due to a sprained left ankle. Expectations should be tempered, given D-Will has been injured dating all the way back to training camp. During his small sample size on the court, he didn’t look anything like the All-Star caliber player he was last season. The Nets are going to need Williams to be that player if they’re going to turn their season around. Who knows, however, when that player will show up.
RETURN OF PAUL? Paul Pierce, who has missed the past five games with a broken hand, says there’s a “good chance” he could play against his former team. The Nets' opening day starters -- Williams, Pierce, Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson -- have played together on the court for just 78 minutes through the first quarter of the season. Garnett will be facing the Celtics in an official game for the first time. The Nets (6-14) are just 2-6 at home.
HELLO, OLD FRIENDS: Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and Keith Bogans will all make their first regular-season returns to Brooklyn. All were involved in the KG-Pierce blockbuster trade. The Celtics (10-12), thought to be in rebuilding mode, are actually leading the horrendous Atlantic Division. First-year coach Brad Stevens has done a phenomenal job and appears to be getting the most out of his young team. With Rajon Rondo still out, Boston lacks a star, but has several nice pieces, including Jeff Green, Jordan Crawford, Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley. The Celtics are coming off a 41-point victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Look out.