Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will face LeBron James in a playoff series for the fifth time in the last seven years starting Tuesday night when the Brooklyn Nets take on the Heat in Miami. The rivalry dates back to Pierce and Garnett's time with the Boston Celtics.
Before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Pierce said his dislike for James isn't personal, it stems strictly from their desire to win.
"I think it is more of a basketball thing," Pierce said at Tuesday's shootaround, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com, when asked if there is any dislike between him and James. "We are aiming for the same prize and only one of you can get it, you know? "I mean, it's going to be a dislike there. That's nothing that has carried over off the court. I think everything — the dislike for me, LeBron, or Miami or Cleveland — it's all based on what we are both chasing, and that is about it."
James is 13-12 in the playoffs against Pierce and Garnett. He has won his third and fourth MVPs and two NBA titles since last meeting the duo in the playoffs. Dwyane Wade said he thought "we buried them" after the Heat beat the Celtics in seven games in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.
"They don't ever go away," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked about Wade's comment. "Seriously. Look up the storylines the last time we played the two guys when they were in the green in the playoffs. It was the same storylines. If anybody had forgotten, that series went seven. "With us, those two guys may be wearing black and silver. But there's green underneath it somewhere, so it's all the same to us."
Though Pierce said his distaste for James only had to do with basketball, he added that the two don't have a relationship off the court.
"I really don't have a relationship with anybody in the NBA outside my teammates. You know?" the 36-year-old said. "These are guys that I respect. Been to the All-Star Game with a lot of them. It is a mutual respect. That's all. It is not like I am calling anybody. My friends are pretty much who I grew up with and my family."SI WIRE: Report: Lakers add North Carolina coach Roy Williams to list of coaching candidates