Turns out, the Miami Heat can beat the Brooklyn Nets.
And rest hardly led to rust for the two-time defending NBA champions.
LeBron James scored 22 points, Ray Allen added 19 and the Heat stayed perfect in this postseason by beating the Nets 107-86 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series. It was the first win for Miami in five meetings with Brooklyn this season.
Chris Bosh scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Dwyane Wade finished with 14 points and Mario Chalmers had 12 for Miami, which recorded at least one regular-season win against every team except Brooklyn, losing four times by a total of 12 points.
This one was a different story.
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson scored 17 points each for the Nets, who got only eight from Paul Pierce and no points from Kevin Garnett in 16 minutes.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday night.
A 24-9 run in the third quarter blew things open for the Heat, who hadn’t played in eight days after sweeping Charlotte in the opening round. James finished 10 for 15 from the field and Allen — who had never faced his former Boston “Big 3” compatriots Pierce and Garnett in the playoffs — was 4 of 7 from 3-point land.
Miami’s lead was 55-52 early in the third quarter after a 3-pointer by Williams, and every indication was that the Heat and Nets — who played three one-point games and a double-overtime affair in the regular season — were heading down to the wire again.
The Heat took off on the 24-9 run over a 7-minute span, with Bosh scoring the first seven points of that burst to get Miami going. Allen’s 3-pointer pushed the lead to 14, James and Chris Andersen (who left in the fourth with a right knee contusion) added two free throws apiece and just like that Miami’s lead was up to 79-61.
For Brooklyn, it was a collapse at an unexpected time. The Nets had the best third-quarter scoring differential in the East after Jan. 1, but were outscored 33-23 in that pivotal quarter in Game 1.
Spurs 116, Trail Blazers 92: Tony Parker had 33 points and nine assists and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed in a resounding victory over Portland, bullying the younger Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and Tim Duncan added 12 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio.
More importantly for the Spurs, their bench contributed mightily after being virtually non-existent in the series against Dallas.
Marco Belinelli had 19 points and the Australian connection of Aron Baynes and Patty Mills had 10 points apiece.
The Spurs had their most complete game of the postseason, playing with the flair and fluidity that resulted in the league’s best regular season record.
Portland, meanwhile, didn’t come close to resembling the confident and sharp-shooting group that upset Houston in the opening round.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 32 points and 14 rebounds and Damian Lillard had 17 points for Portland, but the All-Star duo combined for just 17 points in the first half as San Antonio built a 26-point lead.