The Nets have dropped 13 consecutive games to the Heat, including three lopsided losses last year and nine defeats in a row overall since LeBron James joined Miami in 2010. But Deron Williams likes new-look Brooklyn's chances against the two-time defending champions this year.
"I don't know if we felt we were a better team than the Heat last year," Williams told ESPNNewYork.com. "And so I think in order for us to be able to beat them this year, we have to feel like we are a better team and we can beat them. And I think we do."
Williams and the Nets (0-1) -- who added Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko in the offseason -- can start to show that's the case when they play host to the Heat (1-1) on Friday. The bad blood between the teams is already boiling. In an Oct. 18 preseason game, Pierce delivered a hard foul to LeBron James. "That's going to [be] our identity," Pierce said afterward. "It's a message to the league."
Before that game, James suggested that Pierce, Garnett and Doc Rivers were perhaps a little hypocritical for leaving the Celtics one year after they criticized former Boston guard Ray Allen for signing with the Heat. Garnett fired back, saying LeBron should “worry about Miami.” Dwyane Wade is set to return to the Heat lineup Friday after missing Wednesday's loss at Philadelphia with sore knees. Nets coach Jason Kidd will miss the team's home opener while competing his two-game suspension for a DWI conviction. Kirilenko is expected to make his Nets debut after sitting out Wednesday's loss at Cleveland with back spasms.