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NBA Playoff Preview: Brooklyn Nets vs. Miami Heat

May 6, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets

REGULAR SEASON RECORDS

Brooklyn Nets: 44-38 (6 seed in the East)

Miami Heat: 54-28 (2 seed in the East)

The Nets beat the Raptors in seven games in the first round, while the Heat cruised in four to a sweep over the Bobcats.

KEY INJURIES

None.

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possessions)

Nets: Offense: 104.4 (14th in the NBA). Defense: 104.9 (19th in the NBA)

Heat: Offense: 109.0 (2nd in the NBA). Defense: 102.9 (11th in the NBA)

THREE KEYS TO THE SERIES

Brooklyn swept Miami 4-0 in the regular season. What does that mean? As Erik Spoelstra told reporters at a recent practice, “Depends on who you ask.” There are reasons for both the Nets to be encouraged, and for the Heat to be dismissive. On Brooklyn’s side, three of the victories came by a single point, and the fourth required overtime to be decided — all of which proves that the Nets were able to out-execute the defending champs over the closing possessions to pull out hard-fought victories.

For Miami, they can look to the timing of the games, as well as the lineups they played which were at times much different than the ones they’ll be trotting out to open the second round series. One of their losses came in the second game of the season on Nov. 1, a lifetime ago by NBA standards. And in the final meeting between the teams on April 8, Dwyane Wade sat out, and Miami started Shane Battier and Toney Douglas — both of whom received DNP-CDs for essentially the entirety of the first round series against the Bobcats.

The Nets have confidence that few playoff opponents have been able to against Miami — but they also have the Heat’s full attention.

Joe Johnson vs. the Miami defense: Johnson more than anyone else was the one who consistently carried the offensive load for the Nets in the first round, and when Toronto shut him down by holding him to just seven points in Game 4, Brooklyn managed just 79 points in the loss. Double-teaming him can be tricky, as the Raptors found out in Game 7 when Johnson was able to make good decisions and the ball whipped around the perimeter, often beating Toronto’s rotations and resulting in wide open looks from three-point distance.

Miami has historically been able to defend on a string in the postseason, and it’s one of several key reasons that they’ve won consecutive titles. Whether or not they can do so against Johnson and the rest of the Nets will be a major factor in this series.

LeBron James vs. the Brooklyn defense: When the game’s best player is on the floor, you can’t underestimate the impact he’ll have on the series. LeBron averaged 30 points per game while shooting 55.7 percent from the floor in the first round against the Bobcats, who all season long have been one of the better defensive teams in the league. The Nets can’t allow that level of efficiency from James, and they’ll need to find ways to force him into contested shots — or better yet, force him to take less of them.

Brooklyn doesn’t appear to be equipped defensively to stop or even slow James. But if they can get him to try to do too much, or at the very least force other players who aren’t four-time MVPs to step up and make plays, life will be a little easier.

PREDICTION

There is a lot to like about this Nets team. They have the best record in the East since January, have veterans like Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson who won’t be intimidated by Miami’s championship resume, and they closed out a feisty Raptors team on the road in a Game 7 in front of an incredible home crowd that likely won’t be replicated in the postseason.

It’s tempting to take the Nets in 7.

But picking against LeBron in the playoffs hasn’t worked out for anyone since June of 2011, so let’s go with the Heat in 7 instead.

  1. golfrangeman - May 6, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    First of all who says LBJ is better then mike? Second,people always talk like 6 for 6 is somehow better then say 6 for 7 or 6 for 8. Isn’t it better to get to the finals and lose then not get there at all. If you base everything on championships I’ll take Russell over mike, hell I’ll take Horry he won 7

    • jimeejohnson - May 6, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      Nobody says it but some think it.

  2. jollyjoker2 - May 6, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    finally I can route for Miami..I hate garnet and can only hope he breaks a leg.

  3. floridascuba1 - May 6, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    Stopped reading the post. It’s just the celtics all over. See same result. Heat win in 6 or 7.

  4. jimeejohnson - May 6, 2014 at 6:24 PM

    Kosher pizza vs. Grouper Sandwiches…it’s going to be close!!! Anyone who counts the Nets out either knows something or isn’t being realistic; after all, they swept the season series with the Heat.
    I think the NBA is as competitive as ever and this series will reflect that.

    Brooklyn yuppies vs. Miami yuppies. May the best yuppie win!

  5. djshnooks - May 6, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    Not a single mention of a schedule of the playoff games that you’re previewing?

  6. newyorkball82 - May 6, 2014 at 9:10 PM

    I love heat fans…. A heat fans typical night when the heat are on: “oh the heat are playing tonight, we got this game… let me me see what else is on…” 2 and a half hours later “oh hell yeah, the heat are winning!!! I love the heat… Let me get back to what I was watching”.

  7. jcioffi1485 - May 6, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    To quote Jeff Jarrett, “Choke on that, Slap Nuts”

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