MIAMI — In the Miami Heat locker room prior to Game 1 against the Brooklyn Nets, the video screen showed a replay of a 2009 playoffs game between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics.
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A handful of reporters wondered why that game was on. To watch Paul Pierce? Remember, Kevin Garnett didn’t play in that series because of injury. What tangible value was that game to the Heat?
LeBron James delivered the answer following the Miami Heat’s dominant 107-86 victory Tuesday against the Nets in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series. He said Heat guard Ray Allen wanted to watch highlights of his own 51-point performance in that game.
Allen won’t admit now — and may never admit — that he really wants to beat Garnett and Pierce, his former Celtics teammates who chided him for leaving Boston and joining the Heat in the summer of 2012.
“It wasn’t any different than any other game,” Allen said.
But Allen still managed to post 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting, 4-for-7 on threes, in his first playoff game against Pierce and Garnett since leaving Boston. His three-pointer with 6:54 left in the game gave Miami an 89-70 lead and his three with 5:34 left made it 94-74.
And Pierce scored eight points, only two after halftime, while Garnett went scoreless for the first time in his 139-game playoff career.
“Those other five guys on the other team are blank to me,” Allen said. “Regardless of who they are, you just have a team that you want to beat and you have to do what you can to beat them.”.
Allen’s philosophy works for him. He’s always been methodical — maybe maniacal — in his approach throughout his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, Seattle SuperSonics, Celtics and Heat.
When Allen bolted Boston for Miami, he said he did what was best for him and his family, which certainly is the way pro athletes should make decisions.
But then-Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Pierce and Garnett — especially Garnett — didn’t like that Allen left, even though it was obviously Allen had been marginalized with the Celtics, even losing his starting job. Garnett said he “lost” Allen’s phone number.
Allen has taken the high road, refusing to get into a back-and-forth with Garnett and Pierce. He said Monday that he never had a desire to reach out to either one and put the silliness to rest. After all, they won a title together in 2008.
He took a subtle dig and justified his decision to join the Heat, with whom he won a championship last season.
“Since I got here, these guys have welcomed me, made me feel very welcome and my family as well and made me a brother. Here, it’s felt like I’ve been for a while, so I don’t worry about on the outside. We’ve got to keep a tight unit here.”.