If the Miami Heat drew up a list of the players who have been the biggest thorns in the side of the Big Three over the past three years, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett may be at the top of the list. And they’ll both be back in Miami starting Tuesday hoping to knock off the Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
There’s no love lost between Pierce and Garnett and the Heat. Both would love nothing more than to be part of the team that derailed the Heat’s pursuit of the elusive three-peat. Heat guard Dwyane Wade said he thought the team was done dealing with Garnett and Pierce two years ago.
“We thought when we played them in Boston; we thought we buried them,” Wade said, according to the New York Daily News. “That’s why it’s the perfect storm right now. They’re trying to get back to the championship. This is a kind of battle, a match that you want to meet in the Eastern Conference finals when you talk about the bad blood.”
Wade continued, “This is going to be a very challenging round. You wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Miami has been off since sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats out of the playoffs last week. Miami looked like it was regaining its defensive footing in the series and is fully healed and rested.
On the flip side, the Nets needed a last second block to save a series win in Game 7 to eek past the Toronto Raptors. Brooklyn also is dealing with an injury to point guard Deron Williams, who needed two ankle injections before Game 7.
But, make no mistake; Brooklyn is a very formidable threat to take out the Heat this year. Miami has been off the court for almost a week, and while Brooklyn is tired and beat up, last year the Heat struggled after a long playoff layoff between rounds.
Miami quickly picked up the pace in the second game against the Bulls last year, but the possibility of being a little off is there for the Heat in Game 1.
Plus, the Nets swept the regular season-series from the Heat this year in four head-to-head matchups. In those games, the two teams were separated by a total of just 12 points, or three points per game. So it could be a nail-biter of a series for Heat fans after a snoozer in the first round.
The game tips off Tuesday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena at 7 p.m.