MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets are facing off in the Eastern Conference semi-finals—but it’s not the first time major players meet in this grand stage.
Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will be facing Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in their third playoff series since the championship team got together.
Pierce and Garnett donned Celtic uniforms for these last two playoff meetings, but since joining the Nets this season, the team has not lost to the Heat.
James and Wade are familiar with their opponents’ tendencies, but also acknowledge how tough this series can be.
For the fifth time in seven years, James says there are no secrets left.
“There’s really nothing to hide,” James said. “They know my tendencies, I know their tendencies, and what their likes and you know dislikes and vice-versa so, you know, it should be very challenging. It’s going to be fun.”
When the same Brooklyn duo was in its Celtic prime, they loved to torment LeBron with the Cavaliers and Wade with the Heat.
“When we first started this thing they were the big brothers, the big bullies not brother, the big bullies on the block and we had to come in and impose our will,” said Wade. “And it took us a while to get there, but I think we eventually did.”
Things got especially personal for Lebron going hand-to-hand against Pierce, a matchup he finally won two years ago in a tense seven game series.
“I’ve always looked at Paul as one of the better guys we have in our league and he’s got the upper edge on me and I’ve had the upper edge on him so this is another opportunity to see who gets the upper edge,” said James.
“We thought when we played them in Boston, we thought we buried them,” said Wade. “Then we got Ray [Allen], Doc [Rivers] left, we were like yeah, we’re ready to go. It’s great because they’re unbelievable competitors.”
Now, the Heat has developed its own swagger, the kind you get from being two-time defending champs.
Their old adversaries who have traded Celtic green for Brooklyn black-and-white now stand in the way of their quest for a three-peat.
“We love playing against the best and obviously the Heat over the last couple of years are the class of the NBA and you know this is what you gotta live for,” said Pierce.
“They got a lot of experience guys, a lot of championship guys on their team and that’s just gonna raise the level of play,” said Garnett.
“Whenever we get into the series like that it’s just physical guys, guys who don’t want to lose and have will to win and at the end of the day it’s the ultimate respect,” said Wade.