Though this series ended in a mere 5 games for your Miami HEAT, it certainly wasn't a gentleman's sweep (see what San Antonio did to Portland for a better example of that). A game that was equal parts frustrating and euphoric ended with LeBron James roaring to the fans on top of the owners table to celebrate a brutally tough game 5 that Miami miraculously came away with.
Miami again came out of the gates slowly as they quickly fell behind 11-4 thanks to 7 quick points from
land walrus forward Paul Pierce, but Dwyane Wade was uncommonly aggressive early, not only attacking the rim, but earning foul shots in bunches. Dwyane finished with 12 first quarter points and Miami would lead by 1 after the end of the first quarter despite Chris Bosh not recording a point or rebound and LeBron James missing the aggression seen in his game 4 explosion.
The 2nd quarter wasn't nearly as pretty as despite 8 more points from Wade. Miami was outscored 27-19 in the period and fell behind by 7 at halftime. The story quickly became Miami's putrid shooting from beyond the arc. Miami as a team was 1-16 at halftime from beyond the arc, the sole make coming from James Jones. The Nets were collapsing on LeBron and forward Andrei Kirilenko did an admirable job on him individually, forcing LeBron to enter distributor mode. Many of the looks Miami received were excellent open shots in the flow of the offense, but they simply wouldn't fall and the Nets scored the last 7 points of the quarter.
The 2nd half was a series of punches and counter punches that you'd expect from these two battle tested foes. Miami quickly erased their 7 point deficit, only for Brooklyn to respond with a 7-0 run of their own and eventually ballooning the lead to double digits. Every push Miami made thereafter to get it to a manageable 3 or 4 point deficit would quickly turn to 8 or 9 following timely stops and baskets by the Nets. Joe Johnson, in particular had himself an incredible stretch, at one point making 8 of 9 shots through the 3rd and 4th quarters. In the 2nd half, Johnson finished with 24 points on 10/13 shooting and was 3/4 from beyond the arc.
Down 9 after three quarters, it very much looked like Miami would be packing their bags and heading back to Brooklyn. Miami would get close with some Chris Bosh 3s or LeBron James free throws (he shot 10 in the 4th quarter alone), only for Joe Johnson and the Nets to respond with key jumpers of their own and Miami simply couldn't seem to muster enough stops needed to complete their comeback. Following a well guarded Joe Johnson jumpshot, the Nets led 91-83 and both teams traded misses for a few possessions (if Mirza Teletovic hits a 3 at the 4:01 mark, Miami likely doesn't pull off the comeback). But after an impressive Dwyane Wade drive where he managed to eek out a pass to an open LeBron at the last second, Miami cut the deficit to 5.
As if a switch was then turned on, Miami entered their "piranha defense" mode and Johnson and Pierce would miss their next 3 shots and a timely basket from Dwyane Wade and two free throws from LeBron brought the game to within 1 point. Brooklyn went to their 4th quarter ace Johnson yet again, but LeBron managed to cleanly block his midrange floater. Miami secured the rebound and promptly called a timeout.
Miami opted to run a pick and roll with LeBron James and Mario Chalmers. 'Rio had an open look, but while in mid air, hit Ray Allen with a last second pass and Allen would go on and nail his only three pointer of the night (he was 0/6 prior to the make). Miami regained the lead and they wouldn't relinquish it, but it wouldn't be a HEAT game without one last scare now would it?
Following Ray Allen free throws, an initial Nets miss eventually led to an open Joe Johnson nailing a three pointer, bringing the Nets to within 1 point. LeBron would split the ensuing free throws and the Nets still had solid a chance to tie or win the game. Following some out of bounds nonsense, there were 4.4 seconds left and Joe Johnson received the inbounds. Opting to go for the tie, Joe Johnson juggled the ball following a clean Ray Allen swipe then was finally ripped by LeBron James. Brooklyn scored only 3 points the final 4:47 of the game.
Quotes, notes, and other observations
- Chris Bosh who finished with 16 points including 4/6 from downtown: "Sometimes you just got to make s--- happen."
- LeBron James: "There's one guy in the world that I may not rotate off, and that's Ray Allen."
- Miami went 8-13 from beyond the arc in the 2nd half following their 1-16 debacle. Law of averages?
- James Jones seems to have finally moved past Rashard Lewis in the rotation, as he was a part of the initial 4 man bench unit that played with LeBron. He was also the first sub off the bench in the 2nd half. Still, whether Indiana or Washington advances, expect to see Udonis Haslem make another return to the lineup in order to deal with either team's massive frontcourt players, meaning the rotation could again resemble something completely different.
- To Lewis' credit, he finished with 5 points and hit a big three early in the 4th quarter. Just making the shot meant the Nets needed to account for him whenever he was on the floor.
- While Bosh will get some well deserved flak for his 2 rebounds (both in the 4th quarter), he was very much again a huge part of the defensive surge to close out the game and his role as the last line of the defense allowed other players such as Mario Chalmers to secure (a postseason high) 7 rebounds.
- Miami was a sublime 29-31 from the foul line, with LeBron missing the only two (he was 15-17). Dwyane Wade was 8-8.
- Outside of Johnson, Pierce, and Deron Williams (70 points between them), the Nets did not get much else offensively. If Kevin Garnett calls it a career, his last boxscore will read 2 points and 8 rebounds.
- Miami's point guard play wasn't very inspiring and Miami went without one for most of the 4th quarter as Chalmers and Norris Cole combined to shoot a combined 0-8 and 0-7 from downtown. Chalmers managed to chip in with 7 rebounds and 7 assists, but Cole's solid play against the Bobcats seems a distant memory and he'll have to play better in the next round to keep earning minutes.