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LeBron James dismisses Nets as Heat’s biggest East threat

Apr 9, 2014, 11:22 AM EDT

The Heat fell to the Nets, 88-87, last night – giving Brooklyn a four-game sweep over Miami for the season.

Does that worry LeBron James?

After the game, Craig Sager asked him (hat tip: Ben Golliver of Point Forward):

  • Sager: “Are they your biggest challenge in the East?”
  • LeBron: “Get out of here, Craig. Next question.”

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LeBron is totally correct, both to dismiss the Nets and avoid motivating the Pacers .

Despite the Pacers’ late-season slide, they’re still the Heat’s toughest competition in the East. Indiana has won 2-of-3 against Miami with a fourth matchup coming Friday. And the Pacers’ were so much better than the rest of the East for so much of the season, a few weeks of poor play doesn’t erase it.

The Nets’ hot streak doesn’t make them likely to upset the Heat (or anyone else in the East), and though Brooklyn winning the season series is a little more telling, it hardly proves anything conclusively – especially against Miami.

In the previous three seasons, the Heat have faced five Eastern Conference playoff opponents they didn’t beat in the regular=season series. Each time, Miami flipped the script (regular season | postseason):

  • 2012-13: Pacers 2, Heat, 1 | Heat 4, Pacers 3
  • 2012-13: Bulls 2, Heat 2, | Heat 4, Bulls 1
  • 2011-12: Celtics 3, Heat 1 | Heat 4, Celtics 3
  • 2010-11: Bulls 3, Heat 0 | Heat 4, Bulls 1
  • 2010-11: Celtics 3, Heat 1 | Heat 4, Celtics 1

The Nets are probably as threatening to a 53-24 team as a 43-34 team can be. But this hypothetical postseason matchup still features a 10-game difference. Miami needn’t waste time worrying about the Nets, who won thrice by one point and once in double overtime during the season series.

The last thing LeBron and the Heat want to do, though, is motivate the wayward Pacers. Indiana is a tough matchup and geared toward Miami. Lately, the Pacers have been bickering among themselves off the court and slumping on it. But it wouldn’t take much for them to find their way. Chemistry and winning can spiral forward just as quickly as they spiraled backward for Indiana.

So, LeBron implicitly told the truth about the Nets and handled the Pacers publicly the best way possible.

  1. aboogy123456 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    The Heat would not make it to the finals if they were in the western conference. Lebron is an all time great but this Heat team is extremely overrated.

    • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      LOL- Don’t you have to play a team from the Western Conference to win a championship? Oh and that team is the best one? Use your head. Don’t let your dislike for the Heat rob you of common sense.

      • aboogy123456 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:53 AM

        Maybe you should use your head and think about it more. Matchups matter in the NBA, and there are a couple teams in the west, I think Houston, San Antonio, and even memphis, that match up very well against miami. If the Thunder come out of the west then that matchup favors miami because the thunder don’t take advantage of miami’s weakness down low. Also, whatever team comes out of the west will be so worn out, while miami can be more rested for the finals, and that matter alot, especially for wade. respond.

      • cruzan80 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:40 PM

        @ nykfan

        Correct…they DO have to play “A” team from the Western Conference to win a championship…..not THREE…..nice try though.

      • brutl - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        Last season the Spurs and the Heat played almost the same amount of games in the playoffs. Yes, the first round in the east is weak, but after that it gets competitive fast. Besides, I don’t think there’s a western conference team that will wear you down like the Bulls and the Pacers.

    • fanofthegame79 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      By saying “this Heat team is extremely overrated”, do you mean this season?

      • aboogy123456 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        I mean in the last three years they are overrated, because they may be remembered as an all time great team, but people will forget how easy of a path they had to the championship, especially this year and their first year. I’m ok with them winning because I think Lebron has been phenomenal and should get credit, but I just want to point out that they are not really facing any real challenge in the east, while the spurs would potentially have to face memphis in the first, houston in the second, and OKC in the third.

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:59 PM

        I hear you on LeBron and I applaud you for seeing who and what he is. However, you have to revise your view of what the Heat have accomplished. They have been to the Finals 3 straight years (not many teams have even done that). They are back-to-back Champions, one of only 8 teams to do so. They have won 27-straight games in a row – the second longest streak of its kind. Along the way, they beat the OKC Thunder in 5 games – a team that was comprised of 3 of the top 20 players in the league and the league’s leading scorer (KD). And they just beat the San Antonio Spurs – a legit dynasty…a team that had NEVER LOST in the Finals before running into this Heat team. I’m not saying that they are the best team ever – but they can’t be overrated with a resume like that. They are a historically good team with one of the best players ever (which, again, you did point out – so props to you on that).

    • kb2408 - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      @boogy…well said! 1st trip to the Finals the Heat got curb stomped by a good, not great, Mavs team. 2nd trip they beat down an OKC team that was clearly too young for the moment . Last season they should have lost in 6 games. Heck, even their own “fans” had thrown in the towel, only to have Ray make a miracle shot and save them. Then in game 7 the Spurs simply gave the game and Finals away. So, Miami has won one title convincingly, lost one almost just as convincingly and were gift wrapped a second title. And this from the team Heat “fans” and others wanted to label the greatest team ever?

      • aboogy123456 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        I know it will get lost in history but that Tony Parker injury was what I think decided the series last year, more than the Ray allen shot. Parker was dominant before he pulled his hamstring, and then not effective after he pulled his hamstring. The spurs are better this year, with patty mills and Kawhi getting better, but I think their fate still lies in Tony Parker’s health, which is always shaky.

      • rodyaugu - Apr 9, 2014 at 5:56 PM

        Whatever make you sleep at night @Kb2408. As for aboogy, Dwyane Wade was also dealing with injuries. It wasn’t the hamstring injury that slowed down parker, it was the heat defense that took
        away all the transition baskets he was getting early in the series, and also lebron guarding him last two games. Parker had his best game of the series a game after he injured his hamstring.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:54 PM

      Miami has a better record against the West than they do against the East.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:17 PM

      All of you are clowns. You really think teams get “worn down” and that something changes because you play hard teams? Try providing some evidence. Because I’ve never seen it. The Celtics won their last championship playing a bunch of 7 game series… they didn’t wear down. They just won because they were better.

  2. spthegr8 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    LMFAO!!!! Seriously!!

  3. dirtyjerseysports - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    LeCrying game mad he got Plumleed!

  4. cantonbound13 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    Thumbs up if you’re tired of baby Bron Bron’s whining & crying.

    • reesesteel23 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:07 PM


    • ranfan12 - Apr 9, 2014 at 5:42 PM

      Yeah. I’m sure I’d love to hear more about ped on nearly every lebron article. It’s much, much better obviously

  5. chargerdillon - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    Jason Kidd deserves some respect as a coach. In one season he’s already proven to be a better coach than Mike D’antoni, Mike Brown, and Mike Woodson.

    Lots of hate on him early in the season. First time on the job looking more established working with veteran talent.

    Kidd deserves some credit, just sayin.

    • cantonbound13 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      D’Antoni, Brown & Woodson? Talk about the Mt Rushmoore of coaching.

    • spthegr8 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:59 PM

      Saying he is better than those 3 coaches isn’t saying much @ ALL. The same could be said about 7 yr old Daughter.

      • chargerdillon - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:35 PM

        Yes I am saying he’s better than all 3 of those coaches. All of which probably make more money than all of us combined to be completely inept at what they’re paid to do.

        And I’m saying it because at the beginning of this season the haters were out for him like crazy. And in the process of being given time he’s quietly lead a staggeringly old team to the playoffs in only his first year on the job.

        I don’t know much about your 7 year old, but I consider that feat to be pretty darn impressive for a guy who was playing on the court just 1 year ago.

      • spthegr8 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        I’m not denying that Kidd has turned things around because obviously, he has and he does deserve credit for that. I’m just saying that, the coaches you said he is better than suck. & my daughter does has one helluva basketball mind!!!

    • antistratfordian - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      I’ve always liked Kidd as a coach. I’ve been supporting him since the offseason. I just had a hunch based on his playing career, and the interviews of him talking about his coaching philosophy – which sounded like he’s absorbed all of the most essential parts of Phil Jackson’s books. So I’m not surprised by his successes this season.

  6. void96eater - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    Let’s be honest here. Was he really expected to say anything else?

  7. prareedoggin - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Look at the heats record vs the west the last 3 years!!!! Were dominating it… Wow your opinion sucks

  8. pharohislife - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    I don’t know, Lebron. The Nets are coming.

  9. cantonbound13 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:09 PM

  10. 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    He’s not dismissing the Nets. He’s dismissing Craig Sager. Is PBT really too stupid to realize that? Is Sager too stupid to know that LeBron will never answer that question. What’s LeBron supposed to say? If “yes” than he’s dissing the Pacers & Bulls. If “no” he’s dissing the Nets right after a tough loss to them.

    It was a stupid question, asked for no other tragic than to get the reporter a juicy response. LeBron answered it the only way possible.

  11. 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    Reason, not tragic. Darn thumbs

  12. jasper36 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    The only thing missing from the nets 4-0 season sweep of the Heat is the trophy!

  13. prareedoggin - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    The Heat are 55-21 the last 3 years vs the Western Conference… The Heat would win no matter where they were

    • pharohislife - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:50 PM

      Impressive without a doubt, but maybe that record changes if they have to play those tough Western Conference Teams 3 to 4 times a year instead of 2 like the Thunder and Spurs have to.

      • pharohislife - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:41 PM

        Thumb it down but it’s true, you are just flat out dumb if you think the Heat would win as many games as they do if they played the Western Conference Teams 4 times a year.

        Imagine if the Spurs played in the East, instead of playing the Thunder, Clippers, Rockets, Warriors, Blazers, Mavericks, Suns, and Grizzlies 4 times a year they get to play the Pacers, Bulls, Nets, Raptors, Wizards, Bobcats, Hawks etc. 4 times a year. Now with the record the Spurs have now playing in the tough West you could only imagine how much they would dominate the East and see their record being even better than it is now.

      • heat256 - Apr 9, 2014 at 5:01 PM

        Wouldn’t their collective record over the last THREE years be adequate proof they can more than hang in the West? That’s a large enough sample size that says if they were in the West they’d do just as well as they do in the East. The Heat have a frustrating trait of playing down to the competition (and sometimes losing as a result), so with more to challenge them, they may do better.

  14. prareedoggin - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    Pharohislife I agree completely, it was more directed towards the Heat would suck in the west comments.

  15. antistratfordian - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    We see this every year with Miami. Some team beats them several times in the regular season, their fan base gets excited and runs their mouth, then they get bounced in the playoffs.

    Nets fans should keep in mind that these no-playoff-experience guys they’re relying on in the regular season are going to vanish in the playoffs when the pressure mounts.

    • unxpexted1 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      Right but they have 2 players and a coach with championship experience(albeit not as a coach), and two other all star caliber players with almost perrenial playoff experience.

      Not saying the Nets will win because I dont think they can in seven. But comparing the Nets experience to teams in the past that havebeat them like the Bulls (one all star player caliber player and no other championships), and last year pacers whom I believe had 0 all stars, and no players or coach with championship experience), doesn’t hold water. One thing both the Pacers and Buls lack is championship experience and know how. That’s something the Nets have plenty of. Point being, this will be a much different test.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 9, 2014 at 6:29 PM

        Those Bulls and Pacers all had more games playing together than this Nets team which is just cobbled together with spare parts. Plus, they’re younger and hungrier – and in the Bulls case they actually had an elite player.

        The Nets don’t have an elite player they can rely on to get them through a storm in the playoffs. Johnson? Nope. Williams? Nope. Pierce or Garnett? Those days are long gone.

        And really when you talk about the ages of Pierce and Garnett, their experience is not going to matter because they’re going up against younger, better, players who actually have more championship experience than they do.

        So I don’t think there will be anything different regarding the Nets and the Heat in the playoffs. Actually I don’t even think they can beat the Bulls in the playoffs.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett all have extensive playoff experience. Garnett and Pierce have won a championship

      • Kevin S. - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:43 PM

        AK-47, too.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 9, 2014 at 6:37 PM

        Deron Williams (50 games) and Joe Johnson (60 games) do not really have “extensive” playoff experience. Dwyane Wade has played more playoff games than both of them just in the last three seasons alone. A guy like Garnett has twice as much playoff experience than either Williams or Johnson, having seen everything there is to see in the playoffs – that is extensive.

        But no one on the Nets has as much championship experience as either LeBron, Wade, Allen or Bosh.

      • asimonetti88 - Apr 9, 2014 at 6:56 PM

        Gotcha. Playoff experience is the only thing that matters. That’s why the Spurs beat the Thunder in the 2012 WCF.

  16. jeffreycalingasan - Apr 10, 2014 at 2:15 AM

    If the Heat were in the west, they would by worn out over time and wouldn’t be as successful. They basically get free practice games when they play East teams. They have a much easier regular season and are able to conserve energy and coast more often than teams in the West, and they would have more of a struggle over the 5 month season if they played in the West and come playoff time that might take its toll on the team.

  17. gmsingh123 - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:46 AM

    Well, LeBron is better than MJ in one way: he handles the media better.

  18. daddyb1gdrawz - Apr 11, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    I cannot believe the Heat haters. Most people remember “the shot” by Jordan but forget the Bulls had a tough series against the Cavs that year. Dallas beat Miami because it was their time. But Miami went back the next year and the year after that and won. But you guys refuse to give them their credit. They won in spite of all the hate. Get over it.

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