Heat look to avoid season sweep versus Nets

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets have surprisingly defeated the Heat three times in the regular season and twice in the preseason. Will their luck run out tonight?

Following a 102-91 victory on Sunday against the New York Knicks, the Miami Heat (53-23) will look to carry that momentum into tonight's matchup with the Brooklyn Nets (42-34).

The Nets are 3-0 against the Heat this season, including two victories by one point. The Nets will look to become the only team in the NBA this season to not lose to the Heat.

This game has some potentially large playoff implications for both teams.

The Nets sit 2.5 games behind the Bulls and Raptors for 3rd in the East, and just 2.5 games ahead of Washington for 6thin the conference. Miami, meanwhile, currently leads the Pacers by a full game (hehe) with two more games left to play than Indiana.

If the season ended today, these two teams could be looking at a potential second round showdown, assuming the Nets beat the Bulls and the Heat beat the Hawks. As for what's actually happened on the court between these two teams, the games couldn't have been closer. The Nets have won by one twice, and the other game went to overtime, where the Nets won by 9. The Heat look a lot different now than they did then, however.

For one thing, Joel Anthony was on the roster (and played) in the first game against the Nets. Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers sat out the second game (Wade may miss tonight's game as well), and Udonis Haslem wasn't in the rotation for the third game.

So yeah, things are a bit different now.

As for the Nets, they enter this game winners of 16 of their last 21. If not for a slow start to the season, they could very well be sitting atop the Atlantic division and fighting for a top spot in the East. Instead, they'll likely finish as the 5th seed and won't have home court advantage in the first round.

Kevin Garnett is OUT for the Nets in this contest.

Since the All-Star break, the Nets rank 8th in the NBA in offensive efficiency and 13th in the league in defensive efficiency. The Heat rank 4th in both categories. Interestingly enough, the one primary area where the Heat struggle (rebounding), the Nets are actually worse in - the Nets rank 2nd to last in the league in rebounding percentage, whereas the Heat are 5th worst. In addition, Udonis Haslem should help the Heat in that category, as he's averaging 8 per game in just under 27 minutes since making his way back in to the lineup.

We are currently awaiting word on Dwyane Wade and Greg Oden's status for tonight's game, as well as any other Brooklyn injuries aside from KG. I would assume that Wade and Oden are out, but we will see.

The game tips off at 8:00 PM and can be seen on TNT.

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