The Brooklyn Nets have been spectacular lately, and this match-up didn't prove any different. Despite being one day removed from taking down the Toronto Raptors, a Paul Pierce led Nets team had no trouble tearing apart our beloved Heat squad down the stretch. This marks the third time this season that Brooklyn has bested the Heat.
Miami was hot to begin this contest, both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade reaching double figures right away. Unfortunately, LeBron wasn't. This is not to say he didn't come through at all. As the second half approached (and LeBron changed his shoes) LeBron finally found his shooting stroke. He finished with 19 points, but also five turnovers. Wade finished with 22 points, and Bosh with 24. It's also worth noting that Mario Chalmers was proficient from three and took a clutch charge that gave Miami a chance to win the game. Despite their prolific play the whole contest, both Wade and Bosh made decisions down the stretch that ultimately cost Miami the win. With 6.7 seconds remaining in the game Wade grabbed a rebound, yet he didn't call timeout right away resulting in 3.2 seconds for Miami to make the last shot. Chris Bosh decided to ignore a cold Ray Allen and fired the ball to LeBron James on the inbound's pass, only for Shaun Livingston to deflect that ball resulting in a Brooklyn win.
This was a tough loss to take. Only because it seemed the Heat were finally coming together down the stretch. It seemed as if LeBron had finally found his shooting stroke, and that the Heat had figured out Brooklyn's pick and roll. Unfortunately, despite this progress Miami faltered in the final seconds. There are some positives to mention however, Dwyane Wade is back, and Chris Bosh has transformed himself into an extremely versatile big man with a deadly three point shot. Wade has been playing at an extremely high level over the course of thirteen games, and that's a relief. This isn't the Wade of old, yet the Wade of today. A proficient mid-range guard, with defense to stop even the deadliest of opponents.
The only concern for Miami it seems is LeBron. There's no doubt in my mind that LeBron is in a slump. His one on one play has been awful, and his shooting abysmal. He seems lost in transition, and slow on the defensive rotation. For LeBron to be a non-factor until the second half is terrifying, and needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
Despite the loss, I do believe Miami can fix these issues in time for the playoffs. This defeat may spark fear within Heat enthusiasts that both Brooklyn and Chicago will be extremely tough match-ups come the post-season, yet I feel as if experience will ultimately win out. If anything this loss is a wake up call for Miami, and lucky for them it's not the post-season.