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Pierce, Garnett Set To Renew Miami Heat Rivalry

The old battle starts anew Tuesday night in South Beach when the Heat host Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Game 1.

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Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce is willing to admit the obvious as his Brooklyn Nets prepare to take on the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“They’re a different team in the playoffs,” Pierce told reporters quizzing him as to whether the Nets may feel they have the champs number after sweeping them in all four regular season games this year. “We’re going to be battle-tested going into Miami, I think.”

The battle starts anew Tuesday night in South Beach when the Heat host Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Game 1. For the champs, seeking to become the first team in nearly two decades to three-peat, the challenge couldn’t come soon enough.

“We’re about tired of practice, tired of whatever coach can think of to make us do,” guard Dwyane Wade told the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “We want to get back on the court, about ready to get our rhythm back, get back out there in the playoffs.”

The Nets punched their ticket for the next round by holding on to down Toronto in a pulsating seven game series that came down to a Pierce game-saving block on Kyle Lowry. His reward for it all? Try battling a rejuvenated LeBron James, who has taken to joking with the media the last time he felt this good was “on my honeymoon.”

After sweeping the Bobcats, Miami has gone more than a week since its last game action, but in truth their minds have long been gearing for the Nets and a shot at redemption over those four setbacks, three of which were by one point and the other a double-overtime affair.

 “It will always be there,” Wade said of the rivalry the Heat established with the likes of Pierce and Kevin Garnett while both were still members of the Boston Celtics. “I don’t think there will be a moment where it won’t, just the competitive nature of those guys.”

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