TORONTO –- Reunited and it feels so good.
Well, there won’t be happy feelings when Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett renew their rivalry with LeBron James and the Miami Heat. But it certainly feels like old times all over again with LeBron battling Pierce and Garnett in a best-of-seven series.
“Yeah, it’s seeming like that, eh?” Garnett said after the Nets survived 104-103 in a Game 7 win over Toronto. “It seems like that. It seems like we’re seeing D-Wade and LeBron for the past seven, eight years.
“That’s what it is, man,” Garnett continued. “The best is playing the best. All right? You guys take it easy.”
Let the rivalry start up again. The two former Celtics will be facing James for the fifth time in seven postseasons, dating back to when James was a Cleveland Cavalier.
Garnett and Pierce have split the four meetings with James but haven't beaten their nemesis since he joined the Heat. In the 25 playoff games they have played during those four series, Pierce and Garnett are 12-13 overall against James. Their last playoff meeting in 2012 went seven games, with Miami surviving against Boston in the Eastern Conference finals.
Pierce relishes every opportunity he gets to play against James. This season, Pierce averaged 21 points against Miami and helped lead the Nets to a regular-season sweep (4-0) of the Heat. It was the first time James has lost four straight to a team in a regular season in his career.
“I rank LeBron as one of the greatest players to ever play the game,” Pierce said. “A tremendous athlete, four-time MVP, two-time champion, he’s already passed so many greats that we still talk about. And when you play against the best, as a competitor, you want those moments.
“I consider myself a great competitor who wants to be in those moments, who wants to play against who people call the best,” Pierce added. “Just over the years matching up with him, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, all the guys who were in my era who were great wing men, you want those moments.”
Now Pierce and Garnett will get to add more moments to this rivalry with LeBron.
If this is the last time the pair will get to play a best-of-seven together against James, the two will want to make it a memorable one.
“What can I say? His résumé speaks for itself,” Pierce said. “Right now, he’s the best player in the league and I think as a competitor you are always looking for that challenge and he’s the ultimate challenge.”