Game 1 was just what the Miami Heat were looking for, even after a close first half. Miami used the rest to thwart the Nets in the second half and blitzing them to a 21 point victory. Nets coach Jason Kidd didn't even bother to play most of his starters in the fourth quarter as Miami wrestled them to a win.
Game 1 saw some surprising, but not so surprising changes. Miami welcomed Shane Battier back to not only the starting lineup, but also to the rotation. After playing only 2 minutes in the entire first round, Battier played 26 minutes in the Game 1 start and helped keep Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson in check as the Nets prefer to play small. Battier on his surprise Game 1 start, "It's like driving an old car, you don't know if it's going to start up again."
Likewise, Kidd decided to start Shaun Livingston over the recent starter of Alan Anderson. Livingston has given Miami problems earlier this season, but wasn't too much of a nuisance in Game 1.
Game 2 should bring about more changes and challenges to both teams. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and LeBron James have met in the playoffs 5 times in the past, and the winner of Game 2 has won each of those series. This is a pivotal game for the Heat, because taking a 2-0 lead to Brooklyn gives them a really good shot to close this series out in 4-5 games. But if the Nets take a split back to Brooklyn, the Heat could be looking at an extended series. And in a year that seems the more rest the better for Wade, Miami always wants to close out sooner than later.
The Heat got a great contribution from Ray Allen in Game 1, scoring 19 points off the bench. Allen scored a total of 13 points in the first round, but in Game 1 he outscored his former Boston teammates 19-8. The Heat will need continued contributions from Allen, Norris Cole and Chris Andersen off the bench. Andersen was kicked in the back of the knee in Game 1 and didn't return, but claimed on Wednesday that he would play.
"One thousand percent. They're going to need a body bag to keep me from playing." -- Chris Andersen
The Nets need to hope they can find a bit more energy from their core to hang with Miami in the second half. The Nets were down only three at halftime, but a furious run put the Heat up double digits for much of the third quarter. From what I could see, the Nets would be wise to put Joe Johnson in the post more against Miami when either Battier or Wade is guarding him, he had success down there.
The Heat should be prepared for better games from Kevin Garnett, who didn't score and Paul Pierce, only 8 points. Also, Mirza Teletovic was pretty quiet, and he could get going as well. For Miami, they should strongly reconsider the playing time of Rashard Lewis. He was ineffective in Game 1 -- Udonis Haslem or dare we say it even Michael Beasley may be more useful against the Nets.
Either way, Game 2 should be fun! Make sure you come back and join us for our GameThread, which goes live an hour before the game starts. Tune in to TNT at 7:00 PM EST for the game, and come back for our recap and engage with other readers about it.