(Reuters) – The Miami Heat reversed their regular season form against Brooklyn and dispatched the Nets 107-86 in the opening game of their Eastern Conference second round series on Tuesday.
The Heat had lost all four meetings with the Nets during the regular season, but the two-time defending NBA champions have been dominant in the playoffs, improving to 5-0 after whitewashing Charlotte in the opening round.
LeBron James led the way with 22 points, Ray Allen scored 19 off the bench and Miami outsourced Brooklyn 61-43 in the second half to run away with the win.
“(The Heat) has been waiting on us,” said Nets veteran Kevin Garnett.
“They have been resting. They have been hearing that we beat them this and all that. We need to be better, and we will be.”
Nets forwards Paul Pierce (eight points) and Garnett (zero points, four rebounds) were non-factors in the renewal of their fierce playoff rivalry with James.
While members of the Boston Celtics, Pierce and Garnett faced off against James in four different playoff series with each side winning twice.
“I told (Pierce before the game) that it feels right,” James said, of facing his rival once again. “I’ve been in nine postseasons, and I’ve played him in five. He’s one of the best guys that I love competing against.”
Brooklyn struggled to keep James and his team mates out of the paint where the Heat scored 52 points.
The Nets trailed just 55-52 early in the third quarter before Miami exploded for an 15-2 run and never looked back.
Chris Bosh finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat while Dwayne Waded added 14 points.
Joe Johnson and Deron Williams scored 17 apiece to lead the Nets.
Game Two of the best-of-seven series is today, again in Miami.