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Danny

Nets-HEAT Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Chris Chambers)

The new-look Brooklyn Nets make their Miami debut tonight. The Nets and HEAT tip off at 7:30 PM at AmericanAirlines Arena. The HEAT enter the game at 3-1 after an offensive explosion against the Phoenix Suns Monday night. The Nets enter 1-1 after letting a large lead slip away against the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night.

1. This is not the Nets team of yesteryear. How have they changed?

Couper Moorhead: They essentially have a complete team for the first time in at least a couple of years, and by that I mean they have a player to fill most every role, on some level, that an NBA team needs. They have a wonderful playmaker -- even last year, Deron Williams led the league in drive-and-kick passes -- shooters, guys who can create their own shot on the perimeter and in the post, a strong perimeter defender and rebounders. This alone should make them a playoff team, but it remains to be seen how efficient the offense can be, and just how much the defense has improved.

Danny Martinez: They’re healthy and have a deep roster. Gerald Wallace gets a full season in Brooklyn after being traded for last year. Brook Lopez is finally back after dealing with various health issues the last two seasons. His presence alone makes a huge difference for the Nets offensively. Also, the acquisition of Joe Johnson is a big deal for the Nets. Johnson’s shooting, post game and perimeter defense should go a long way towards any success the Nets have.

2. With or without Gerald Wallace, is there any reason Miami shouldn’t be able to maintain its current offensive pace?

Couper: While Brooklyn's offense should be improved, having a number of players with recognizable names alone doesn't immediately translate to the defensive end. While turnovers will often dictate how often Miami actually earns fast-break points, they don't necessarily have to be getting out in transition to maintain a fast pace. Through four games, this offense has been at it's best when using less than 12 seconds, on average, of the shot clock, and if Chris Bosh is going to be pulling Brook Lopez out of the paint -- and he will -- the HEAT should maintain the space they need to get early opportunities.

Danny: No. While the Nets project to be a strong offensive team, they’re going to struggle on the defensive end. They come into tonight’s game with the 30th ranked defense, albeit through just two games. Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries have historically struggled to defend the pick-and-roll, which is not a good when playing the HEAT.

The HEAT have shot a lot of threes this season, but those looks are often generated from pressure the HEAT put on the inside. The Nets will have their work cut out for them if HEAT attackers are able to penetrate into the lane. If Mario Chalmers, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen are able to break the defense down, another offensive outburst is a very strong possibility.

3. Could this game be the best example of the fact that you don’t need traditional size to rebound well?

Couper: Only because Lopez offers a good counter-example of a traditional center that doesn't rebound all that well -- though we aren't precluding him from improving on that end. So often people take a quick look at heights and weights of a lineup and make snap judgements on its ability to rebound, but at its core the rebounding skills has much more to do with how well you read the ball coming off the rim, how relentless you are in chasing rebounds out of your zone, how physical you are in boxing out and, simply, whether or not your team gains possession. A good performance by one of the league's best offensive rebounders, Kenneth Faried, aside, this hasn't been a major issue.

Danny: Yes, but that can be said about any HEAT game, really. So much of rebounding is angles, positioning and effort that while height matters, it’s probably not to the extent that we may have once thought. The HEAT rebound in an unorthodox way, with smaller players garnering more responsibility than they likely would have elsewhere. The Nets have a legitimate seven-footer in Lopez, but he hasn’t been a great rebounder at any point in his career. The Nets may not be as unorthodox as the HEAT, but they do get rebounding from non-traditional areas, especially when Wallace plays the three.

4. Where does Miami need to focus defensively?

Couper: The pick-and-roll defense has to dissuade Deron Williams from easy drives, and the secondary help -- the guy who covers for the guy who slides over in the paint -- has to be on point, as Williams is among the best at drawing the defense to the middle and finding open shooters. If you shut down that aspect of Brooklyn's game, they could resort to a plethora of isolations and post-ups. Then again, it's early, and these Nets clearly haven't evolved to the level they will be at after some months together.

Danny: The Nets have been lights out from distance through two games, shooting 50 percent. The HEAT need to focus on not allowing the Nets to get open looks from the perimeter. The Nets offense is sixth in efficiency this season, and that’s built on spot ups and transition buckets. I have to think that the HEAT will try to beat the Nets back on defense and run shooters off the line.

5. Is Mario Chalmers ever going to slow down with his assists?

Couper: The raw numbers might not continue, but the value of his assists might be here to stay. It's only four games, so let's not overreact, but so far Chalmers has doubled his assist rate at the rim from last season. Basically, rather than his assists leading to jumpers, almost half of the shots he helps create have been at the rim, whether he is finding cutters on the perimeter or making sharp pocket passes in the pick-and-roll. There are still a few errant passes here and there, but for the most part this is a completely new aspect to Chalmers' game, and one that makes you think the HEAT really could make a run at one of the most efficient offenses of all time.

Danny: After the season opener I cautioned that 11 assists shouldn’t be expected, but against Phoenix he did it again. Chalmers has been in complete command of the offense, especially at home. In the three games at AmericanAirlines Arena, Chalmers has 27 assists and just four turnovers. The best part for the HEAT is not that Chalmers isn’t just getting assists, he’s getting them for teammates in high value spots. So far, 19 of Chalmers’ 28 assists this season resulted in layups, dunks or threes. That’s a huge plus for the HEAT offense. Chalmers may slow down a little bit, but it appears as though this offense suits him well.

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i think this will be a great game because joe johnson is paired up with deron williams, but miami will be to hard to contend. miami wins 115-99. I am also surprised that this is not a nationally televised game like on tnt.

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I doubt it. They really blew that lead against Minnesota, an above average team at best, so I think if they have any significant lapse like that against us we can run off with the game and never look back. But if they do play solid throughout the game, I agree, it will be a contest.

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Our backcourt will have to be extremely solid tonight, to me, that'll be the key to MIAMI's success.The combo of DWill/JJ are a formidable duo, big guards that can light it up on any given night.MIAMI's guards play solid, HEAT once again will have a field day...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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Couper:

There are still a few errant passes here and there, but for the most part this is a completely new aspect to Chalmers' game, and one that makes you think the HEAT really could make a run at one of the most efficient offenses of all time.

Wow, I'd like to see the numbers of some of the most efficient offenses of all time....

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Getting owned on the boards like usual.

Battier is just to small to start PF. He's getting abused every other game.

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wade is not the same anymore.......age,knees etc

He's lost some athleticism but i see many opportunities were he is just being passive. He's still one of the best slashers in the league.

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What exactly was Spo holding onto that timeout for? He should have brought Wade in after we couldn't score the first 2 minutes after he went out, not waited till less than a minute left in the half. Same ol stuff from him.

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ive noticed a trend to start these 4 games wade is passive the first quarter and its either lebron or bosh that scores 10 points or something and the second quarter wade starts to be aggressive

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    • By Joe B.

      Photo Credit: Joe Murphy
      The Miami HEAT face the Charlotte Hornets Friday night at Spectrum Center. The HEAT defeated the Hornets 105-100 in their last meeting on Dec. 1. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 6:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
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