BOSTON Jason Collins has known Kevin Garnett since the two were highly regarded high school ballers.
Over the years, the two developed a mutual respect for one another in part because as different as they may seem, they each care deeply for the same thing when it comes to basketball - playing great defense.
And with Collins now in the starting lineup, Garnett has a big man in the first unit with a similar defense-first mindset that he hasn't been paired with since Kendrick Perkins was traded to Oklahoma City in 2010.
There have been glimpses of the Garnett and Collins on the floor together during practices as well as during the preseason games.
But it wasn't until Wednesday's 103-91 win over Cleveland did the defensive duo actually start in the same game.
Although the decision didn't become official until about an hour before tip-off, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he had been giving it serious thought for a while.
The decision didn't catch Collins off guard.
"I could feel a change was coming," Collins said. "So you know with that you've just got to be ready for anything. But I didn't get the confirmation until about 50 (minutes) before (tip-off)."
Although Wednesday was their first game starting together, you would have thought the two of them have been on the same team for years.
"He's not going to make too many mistakes," Garnett said of Collins. "He knows his role."
And having competed against Garnett for the better part of this past decade, Collins understands how big a plus it is for him at this point in his career to play with a future Hall of Famer like Garnett.
"It's better being on his team than against him," said Collins. "Obviously he's a great defender, he talks out there which is so important. I pride myself on being a defender first, and you know we are both 7-footers, so we have the height, we have the length. We're just trying to clog up the paint and make the other team shoot jump shots."