It will be a little weird for Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh to see old adversaries Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Brooklyn black on Thursday rather than Celtics green. What will not be out place when Miami meets the new-look Nets for the first time is the same feeling of general contempt for Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry.
The jerseys might be different this season, but Pierce, in the eyes of Udonis Haslem, is still a “studio gangster”; Garnett is still the same guy who can’t stop running his mouth on the court; and Terry is still the three-point specialist who twisted the dagger of defeat in the 2011 NBA Finals.
Wade said Wednesday that although Pierce, Garnett and Terry will be wearing “different-colored” jerseys, “you might see green when you see those guys.” He added that the Heat’s bad blood with the Celtics will “transfer well” to the Nets. With that as the backdrop, Miami plays the Nets three times in the next 16 days, although two of those dates are preseason games.
“Right now we’re still in preseason, we’re still in the mode of learning each other again and playing certain minutes,” said Wade, whose beautiful dunk in the second quarter against Washington on Tuesday was a sure sign that his return to form is coming along well. “It’s not Nov. 1. That will be a little different.”
In addition to the former Celtics’ trio, the Nets also added Andrei Kirilenko to go along with an already solid Nets core of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. Brooklyn owner Mikhail Prokhorov shattered the NBA’s salary cap in an attempt to put together a team that could challenge the Heat’s dynasty and bring Brooklyn its first major sports title since 1955.
Based on recent history, Indiana and Chicago are the Heat’s main Eastern Conference rivals heading into the season, and James is well aware of that fact. On Wednesday, he noted that “there’s a couple teams in the Eastern Conference that hate us, and we know who they are.”
The Nets could easily join that short list considering the long-simmering feud between Brooklyn’s former Celtics and the Heat. The most recent chapter of that saga is the divorce between Ray Allen and the Celtics. Had things worked out differently, Allen might be on the Nets’ roster now instead of Terry.
“Right now, the East is very top-heavy,” Bosh said. “With that said, there’s a lot of teams that feel they can really make a move, get into the playoff race. For the most part, it’s the New York teams, Indiana, Chicago and us, and we’re going to be duking it out all season.”
Greg Oden was sidelined for the second day in a row due to swelling in his left knee. Oden, who is attempting a comeback despite chronic knee problems, sat out the Heat’s shootaround on Tuesday at Georgetown due to slight swelling. Oden participated in five-on-five drills on Monday, and he rested Tuesday as a precaution.
On Tuesday night, Oden iced his left knee after the Heat’s exhibition against the Wizards despite not playing in the game.
Oden said Wednesday that he was “hoping” his knee wouldn’t swell, “but it did and what can I do about it? The next thing to do is to get it back down and get out there and figure out what I can do to get out there and not have it swell again.”
On the hunt
ESPN The Magazine will publish a 2013-14 NBA preview later this week dedicated to James, who the magazine writes on its cover is “the only player worthy of an entire NBA preview issue.” Among the more interesting things James offered up to ESPN in an interview with Chris Broussard was a quote about “killer instinct.” Before James won two championships in a row, one of the popular knocks against him was that he lacked it.
“There are different ways to hunt,” James said. “I watch the Discovery Channel all the time, and you look at all these animals in the wild. And they all hunt a different way to feed their families. They all kill a different way. Lions do it strategically — two females will lead, and then everybody else will come in. Hyenas will just go for it. There are different ways to kill, and I don’t think people understand that.”