MIAMI -- It depends which side you look at it from.
The Miami Heat view it as opportunity to start over. The Brooklyn Nets are thinking of repeating what has already happened.
The biggest storyline entering this Eastern Conference second-round series is if the trend will continue or not. The Nets won all four regular-season meetings, allowing them to enter Tuesday's Game 1 with overwhelming confidence.
"We didn't talk about it but I'm sure it's great for discussion out there," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It depends who you ask. Come on, naturally, if you were to talk about it, we would say, 'Hey, this is the playoffs, this is a different season.' If you're them, they're saying, 'Hey, we can beat them. We have great confidence. We already did it four times.' "
The stakes are higher now, with the Heat trying to capture a third straight title and the Nets wanting to prove their offseason acquisitions were worth the hefty price. Side plots aside, is looking back at the regular season is even a good gauge?
The first game was the only time the teams were at full strength. The Heat had already clinched the No. 2 seed by the final matchup in early April, meaning it's almost impossible to compare it to a seven-game postseason series.
"Really, we're not the team that we are in the playoffs because of a lot of injuries and things of that nature," forward LeBron James said. "It was very frustrating to go out against some of those teams that wanted to go stack up against them but you weren't (full strength)."
If anything, facing the Nets should provide the Heat motivation after at times appearing bored during the regular season and cruising past the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round. With the Nets outlasting the Toronto Raptors in the opening round, the Heat are presented the opportunity to knock out the team that owned them during the regular season.
"I don't think it was a fact of wanting or anything like that," center Chris Bosh said. "We want the winner of the previous round. That's how we've always taken it. We want to play the best and Brooklyn, of course, everybody knows we haven't won a game against them."
James added, "We just waited around to see who won. There's no incentive on playing one team or another. We'll see what happens. We're ready for them."
The Heat hope to avoid another letdown at this point in the season. Last year, after a long layoff in between series, they lost to the Chicago Bulls in Game 1. The Heat practiced on six of the eight off days to prevent any complacency.
"It kind of felt like we were out of the playoffs, that we were watching the playoffs," guard Dwyane Wade said. "Now we've got to jump back in and get into it mentally as well."
LEBRON ENDORSES DURANT
According to reports, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant will win the NBA's most valuable player award later this week.
It will mark the second time James failed to win the honor in the last six years. James said he supported the decision.
"If the reports are correct, kudos to him," James said. "Much respect to him and he deserves it. He had a big-time MVP season."
Durant averaged 32.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists, leading the Thunder to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. He is the first player to average at least 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists since Michael Jordan in 1988-89.
"You can't win them all," Bosh said of James. "He is the best player in the world, but geesh you can't win it every year. Somebody's got to have a good year, too. You've got to give it to Durant. ... He deserves it but I still like our guy. He's still the best player to me."
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