Tonight at 8PM in Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, the Nets will host the HEAT in game four of the Eastern Conference SemiFinals. After tonight's contest, the two will head back to the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami for game five on Wednesday night.
After losing five of their last six regular season contests, the HEAT started their postseason with six straight wins. A four game sweep over the Charlotte Bobcats and their first two of this series against the Nets. Brooklyn required the full seven games to dispatch the third-seeded Toronto Raptors in the first round before dropping the first two against Miami.
Game three would see the Nets successfully defend their home court against the three-time defending Eastern Conference Champions on Saturday night by a 104-90 final score. Joe Johnson scored 19 on seven-of-10 shooting, including a three-for-five show from deep. Andray Blatche dumped in 15 with 10 boards off the bench, and Deron Williams answered the bell to the tune of nine points and 11 helpers. Paul Pierce had 14 and Kevin Garnett had 10, bringing his series average up to a whopping 4.7 points per game.
LeBron James scored 28 points with eight rebounds and five assists for the champs, while Dwyane Wade had 20 with three helpers and three steals. Chris Bosh scored a dozen with five boards and three blocked shots, while James Jones was a perfect three-for-three off the bench from beyond the arc.
James spoke after the game about Miami's biggest problem:
Third quarter was the deciding factor for us. We scored 14 points and allowed them to get whatever they wanted.
Of course, Miami's 14 point third quarter was only half the problem. Brooklyn was unconscious as a team from deep, going a combined 15-for-25 from behind the rainbow. Fortunately for HEAT nation, a 60% success rate is unsustainable.
With the Nets first playoff victory over the HEAT this season, they've guaranteed that no matter what happens in this series, the best Miami can boast this season + postseason is four wins in nine tries. Fortunately for the HEAT (and not so much for Brooklyn), the regular season may as well be the preseason for all it counts once the playoff begin.
Game Time: 8PM
Betting Line: Miami by 2 1/2, O/U 187.5
November 1st - Nets 101, HEAT 100
January 10th - Nets 104, HEAT 95, 2OT
March 12th - Nets 96, HEAT 95
April 8th - Nets 88, HEAT 87
May 6th - HEAT 107, Nets 86
May 8th - HEAT 94, Nets 82
May 10th - Nets 104, HEAT 90
This day in HEATstory
Miami has won four-of-six on May 12th throughout history, including the last four straight. This includes a win over the Nets in 2006.
The New York Knicks handed Miami an 89-76 loss in game four of the 1997 Eastern Conference SemiFinal to give New York a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Miami won the last three to earn a date with the Chicago Bulls in the Finals (the Bulls won).
In 1999, the Knicks and the HEAT were facing off in the first round of the playoffs in a best-of-five series. New York took this one, 97-73 to take a two-games-to-one lead. The two teams split the next two to see Miami eliminated.
2000 would see Miami and New York struggle from the field for a 68-68 tie after four quarters in game three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Miami won the overtime, 9-to-8 for a 77-76 victory and a two-games-to-one series lead. The Knicks took three of the next four games to eliminate the HEAT.
In game four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2004, Miami defeated the Indiana Pacers 100-88 to tie the best-of-seven series at two. Indiana won the next two, though, before losing to the Detroit Pistons in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In 2005, Miami defeated the Washington Wizards 102-95 in game three on their way to a four game sweep in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The HEAT would go on to lose in the Finals, again to the Pistons, but this time in seven.
On this date in 2006, Miami defeated the New Jersey Nets 103-92 to take a two-games-to-one lead in the best of seven Eastern Conference Semifinals. They would win the next two to end the Nets season. Miami went on to their first NBA title.
Probable Starting Lineups
|PG - Mario Chalmers||8.9||1.3||3.3||0.9||0.3|
|PF - Udonis Haslem||1.7||3.3||0.3||0.4||0.3|
|C - Chris Bosh||14.7||6.1||1.3||0.6||1.4|
|SF - LeBron James||27.4||7.0||5.0||1.7||0.4|
|SG - Dwyane Wade||16.9||3.7||4.3||1.7||0.3|
|PG - Deron Williams||14.4||2.8||5.9||1.2||0.1|
|PF - Paul Pierce||12.9||4.5||2.0||1.2||0.4|
|C - Kevin Garnett||7.3||6.1||1.4||0.8||0.5|
|SF - Joe Johnson||20.2||3.6||3.0||0.5||0.3|
|SG - Shaun Livingston||9.5||3.6||3.3||0.3||0.3|
What 2 Watch 4
The Indiana Pacers, and more specifically, Roy Hibbert seem to have found their (his) game. After losing the first game of their best-of-seven series against the fifth-seeded Wizards, they've reeled off three straight victories. Now, with the Wizards on the brink of their much expected demise, it looks like destiny will have Miami face the Pacers after all.
Don't take this to mean that the Nets are just going to roll over and let it happen - far from it. The Nets defeated the HEAT in game three when Miami went ice cold in the third quarter. It was something that we've seen far too often during the regular season - Miami playing an opponent straight up for the first half, giving up a bunch of points in the third quarter and requiring a superhuman fourth quarter from the King or the Bosh (or the Ray) to claim victory. History showed that this time, there was no superhuman effort to be found.
As for the Nets shooting 60% from deep in game three - before that they were 65-for-228 (28.5%). I expect them to return to earth a little while Miami, who has gone 65-for-149 from deep for a 43.6% success rate, to continue their hot shooting. Miami should win this game by a dozen and game five by 20 in Miami, but that's why they play the games.
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