A night after the Miami Heat's disappointing loss to the New York Knicks, the Heat visit the Brooklyn Nets -- New York's other team. Like the Knicks, the Nets have also looked better recently. Brooklyn is riding a season-high four-game winning streak and remains unbeaten in 2014. To make it even more interesting, the NBA is allowing players from both teams to sport nicknames on the back of their jerseys.
The Heat last night simply didn't play up to its capabilities in the second half in Madison Square Garden. Miami has played down to the level of its competition since the 2010-11 season. It's why the Heat have lost six games this year to sub-.500 teams. Hopefully the fact that Miami's coming off a loss will motivate the Heat to play with more energy Friday at 8 p.m. in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
The Nets, meanwhile, are coming off a very impressive win over the Golden State Warriors. Brooklyn snapped the Warriors' 10-game winning streak -- one that included a win at AmericanAirlines Arena -- in a 102-98 decision. The 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, who has mostly looked done this season, came alive in the fourth period for a vintage performance. It remains to be seen whether Garnett will continue to play well, but he can only play about 25 minutes per game.
Brooklyn is also without point guard Deron Williams, who is currently in a walking boot. Former Heat player Shaun Livingston began starting at point guard in the Nets' surprising road win over the Oklahoma City Thunder and has played well. Livingston and Joe Johnson provide a very long backcourt.
Having Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier back would certainly help, but the Heat can simply win this game playing with the effort it brought against the Portland Trail-Blazers a couple weeks ago. The Nets players are riding their best moment in this dreary season for them. It's up to the champs to remind them that the Nets are an Eastern Conference team that is currently 14-21.