Preview by Nathan Campbell and Jacob Chance
Nathan Campbell – As the Heat continue on their journey to three peat, they face a rowdy veteran team in the Brooklyn Nets. The Brooklyn Nets, who swept the heat in the regular season (4-0) look to use their veteran playoff experience in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to send the Heat home early and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. However, it won’t be an easy task for the Nets to do. Miami finished off Charlotte in the first round fast and swept them. With a week of rest the Nets have not had, the Heat will be ready to battle it out against the Nets.
The Nets Beat the Raptors on a game saving block by Paul Pierce in game 7.
Game 1 @ Miami Heat, Tuesday May 6th
Game 2 @ Miami Heat, Thursday May 8th
Game 3 @ Brooklyn Nets, Saturday May 10th
Game 4 @ Brooklyn Nets, Monday May 12th
***Game 5 @ Miami Heat, Wednesday May 14th
*** Game 6 @ Brooklyn Nets, Friday May 16th
*** Game 7 @ Miami Heat, Sunday May 18th
Points per game
Brooklyn Nets- 98.5
Miami Heat- 102.2
How the Nets Win
Nathan Campbell – Two players production will be key in this matchup. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. If the Nets want to win, Deron needs to take advantage of his matchup with Chalmers who hasn’t played well in the playoffs thus far. Williams needs to be penetrating the defense and kicking it out to Joe Johnson who helped to spark the Nets in games against the Raptors. Joe Johnson averaged 21.9 ppg in the series against the Raptors while shooting over 50%. He also hit numerous clutch shots in that series.
The Nets have ‘Hybrid’ players at most positions allowing them to give the Heat lots of different looks. Depending on how Jason Kidd wants to play, they can have Pierce or Livingston take on the challenge of guarding Lebron. Key minutes from Andre Blatche will be needed in the post, and if he can provide 10-14 ppg off the bench inside it will help Pierce and Johnson get better looks.
The Heat lacking a true big man can be exploited if a threat can be presented in the paint. KG, Blatche, and Plumlee must take advantage of the matchups they get down low and if they can win this battle Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Paul Pierce will have an easier time doing their job, scoring, getting to the hole, and facilitating the game speed they want to play at to win this series.
How The Heat Win
Jacob Chance – I think this all comes to Dwayne Wade for me. In the Charlotte series he was the difference and looked really really good and back to his slashing and crazy-finish ways. Him staying healthy makes the Heat so much harder to guard and I think everyone including the Heat know that. LeBron is going to get his, pierce can’t keep up anymore but I think it comes down to the supporting cast just as much as it does LeBron and Wade. One of the biggest additions to the Heat’s offensive prowess has been Chris Bosh’s much improved outside shooting, this has been huge in some games but just makes their ability to space that much harder to contain. Chalmers and Cole both need to knock down open shots and the ‘Birdman’ and Ray Allen need to provide something off the bench. Basically for the offensive end unless they go stone cold or D-wade doesn’t get up for games I think the Heat are going to be A-OK!
The defensive end is another story though. The Nets have so many weapons, I think Chalmers has to play a defensive-minded role on Williams to keep the pressure off the help-side defence. The Nets do a magnificent job of breaking down the D off the dribble with JJ, Livingston and Williams and then move the ball second to none, always making the extra pass and spread the floor. I expect to see the Heat go small a lot with LeBron at the 4 to counteract this and really scramble on D. So how well the Heat can contain the dribble and rotate quickly and effectively will play a huge role. We already saw how their defence dismantled a Charlotte offence that was the best in the league when it came to taking care of the ball, look for much of the same in this series ahead.
Mario Chalmers Vs Deron Williams
Jacob Chance – This one goes to the Nets, purely based on talent. Kyle Lowry showed in the last series that if you commit to pressuring the ball when it’s in William’s hands, and then work to not let him get it back you can significantly limit his ability to control the game. I think William’s is a key to the Nets being competitive in this series. But Chalmers has come up against quality guards before and done a reasonable job. If D-will does start to take over though and its controlling the series expect to see LBJ have a crack at guarding him, wouldn’t put it past Coach Spolestra.
Advantage – Brooklyn Nets
Dwayne Wade Vs Joe Johnson
Jacob Chance – For me, I’m taking a healthy Dwayne Wade over any other 2 guard in the league besides a healthy Kobe Bryant. But I think he is being hindered slightly by whatever old man issues he has going on. And mind you, Joe Johnson is playing out of his mind as of late. So this is an even split for me at the moment. I don’t know if these 2 matchup on each other or not, but if they do it’ll come down to who can stay in front of who. But this is a really important one to keep an eye on, it could shape the series.
Advantage – Even, But if Wade’s Healthy I’m leaning to the Heat!
LeBron James Vs Shaun Livingston
Jacob Chance – I’m a massive Livingston fan, a hell of a story, but this is a no brainer. LeBron will have his way with practically anyone who guards him. With Brooklyn’s small line up I don’t expect these 2 to match up much. I think Livingston will go to Chalmers and LeBron will get Pierce but we will have to wait and see. I don’t think there is much more to say here.
Advantage – Miami Heat
Jacob Chance – Brooklyn’s ability to line up with 3 big guards and Pierce at the 4 has been one of their biggest keys to success this season, especially post-all star break. I expect Haslem not to play many minutes and I’m sure that Coach Spolestra will be more than happy to play LeBron at the 4 to make sure Pierce doesn’t get any wide open 3’s. But looking at this matchup purely on paper this is definitely in favour of the Nets.
Advantage – Brooklyn Nets
Chris Bosh Vs Kevin Garnett
Jacob Chance – Garnett is nowhere near the Garnett of old, but his leadership skills and ability to anchor this Net’s defence is so valuable. I’m going to be interested to see how they play Bosh when he steps out to the 3 point line, I think Pierce may start by guarding him and Garnett sliding over to Haslem. Both are going to be huge factors for their teams, as most big men usually are. Bosh needs to take advantage of his skill set which is superior to all of the Nets Big’s and Garnett needs to help nullify Bosh as best he can but also be some sort of factor on the offensive end.
Advantage – Miami Heat, Garnett doesn’t play enough minutes
Jacob Chance – For me, I’ve got the Heat in 5 games. Season records don’t matter for me, look at what Dallas did to the Spurs and the Hawks to the Pacers. This is the real season, and the Heat managed to score 8 days off work, that’s going to be the difference, plus the home court advantage. The Nets are coming off what I think they feel was a much tougher series than anticipated against the Raptors, and have a quick turnaround to try and dismantle the Heat’s crack at a 3-peat. I just don’t see anyone in the East stopping James & Wade and I think they’ll be on a mission to send a message early and look for some more extra rest between this round and the next !
Who do you have winning? Let us know on Twitter! @chancy1993 & @Nathanc44