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Danny

Nets at HEAT Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Jesse Garrabrant)

The Miami HEAT host the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Both teams enter on five game winning streaks. Tip off is set for 7:30 PM; coverage starts at 7 PM on Sun Sports.

1.The Nets currently have the seventh best offense in the NBA. In their first meeting against the HEAT, they weren’t able to get anything going. Does that change tonight?

Couper Moorhead: I kept waiting for the Deron Williams drive-and-kick game to get going in that first matchup, but it never quite materialized. The Nets still struggle with their floor spacing at times – a big reason why Jerry Stackhouse has been getting late-game minutes, as he can shoot the corner three – and they haven’t always made the second or third pass that offenses need to beat Miami’s defensive rotations. A few weeks more of playing together should help, though, and even without Brook Lopez, fewer post-ups for him might prove to be beneficial against a defense that feasts on one-on-one play.

Danny Martinez: I doubt the HEAT hold the Nets to an offensive efficiency of 78.1 again. The Nets have nowhere to go but up, and I expect them to. However, I don’t think we’ll see them put up a big number on the HEAT. With Brook Lopez out, the Nets are without their lone above-average offensive big man. The Nets should be more one dimensional, though I guess Andray Blatche or Kris Humphries might surprise us.

2.Gerald Wallace missed the first game against the HEAT. What does his presence mean for the Nets’ defense?

Couper: Having someone capable of cutting off-the-ball should help the Nets a ton, especially considering Miami’s recent defensive breakdowns. Wallace isn’t going to spread the floor but I wouldn’t be surprised if he snuck along the baseline for a few easy buckets. And then there’s that whole thing about Brooklyn having a good defender for LeBron James, which is nice, but it still doesn’t solve the issue of how they play James in the pick-and-roll (which should be better without Lopez).

Danny: Few players possess the combination of size and athleticism that Gerald Wallace does. He should help the Nets immensely with his ability to cover LeBron James. Without Wallace, the Nets were forced to play small and James picked them apart in his 30 minutes of action. Between Wallace and Joe Johnson, the Nets will now have to perimeter defenders to check HEAT wing players. The Nets are 6-1 in games Wallace plays. That isn’t a coincidence.

3.The Nets are 9-2 in their last 11 games, with wins against the Celtics, Knicks and Clippers. Are they now in the championship contender discussion?

Couper: If they can get their defensive efficiency into the Top 10 and keep it there for most of the season, then we can have that conversation.

Danny: Not yet, but we’re getting there. The Nets have the eighth best net efficiency rating in the NBA, but they’ve played the 11th easiest schedule in the NBA. If the Nets are in this position in late January, when the schedules should be more balanced, then they’ll be in the discussion. I’ll label them, “wait and see.”

4.The HEAT have eked out three straight home games, relying on late-game heroics to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Do you see these games as positives or negatives for the HEAT?

Couper: In the long run, they are positives. It’s frustrating for fans to watch games where the HEAT should technically be leading by double-digits at a minimum, but gaining the confidence they are now in absolutely thrashing teams in the clutch is going to pay dividends. That the defense that been otherworldly in the last five minutes of close games should tell you all you need to know about the defense right now. It’s not consistent, but it is consistently great when there is a real threat of losing – it’s not as if the HEAT’s defense has an exposed weakness, as some have suggested.

Danny: It’s November. The HEAT aren’t playing perfect basketball, but they’re winning games. They have the fourth best efficiency differential while playing the second hardest schedule in the league, so it’s not like we should be sounding any alarms. These close games have given the HEAT a chance to work in different late-game sets and lineups. I think that’s a positive going forward. Also, there is a benefit to having things to work on. This recent home stretch should give Coach Spoelstra plenty to work on.

5.If the game is close at the end, will the Nets be the first team to stick to Ray Allen?

Couper: Somebody has to, don’t they? It’s getting pretty incredible how people keep forgetting where Allen is on the floor. Then again, the more likely scenario is they start keying in on Allen too much, Spoelstra uses him as a decoy and James gets an open lane to the rim. During the regular season, at least, teams can have the tendency to compensate in extremes from game-to-game.

Danny: Someone eventually has to, right? Three teams have now fallen victim to Ray Allen daggers late in the fourth quarter. Defenders keep drifting off Allen as he shuffles along the perimeter and LeBron keeps feeding him. Whether it’s CJ Watson, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams or Keith Bogans on Allen late in the game, you know Nets coach, Avery Johnson, will be telling them to stick with number 34.

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Infernoian Preview

Today we've got Wuchuhurd, Scar and hopefully jafet6 previewing tonight's matchup.

1.The Nets currently have the seventh best offense in the NBA. In their first meeting against the HEAT, they weren’t able to get anything going. Does that change tonight?

Wuchuhurd: Hard to get a read on this Miami team right now but if I had to guess, this will be another high scoring struggle. Lopez' absence could be a blessing in disguise as it makes them faster and become more run-oriented. Brooklyn is also on a 5 game winning streak and should be coming to Miami with a bit more confidence and looking to make a statement. They know they are going to have to put up a bunch of points to pull off a victory.

2.Gerald Wallace missed the first game against the HEAT. What does his presence mean for the Nets’ defense?

Wuchuhurd: Gerald's presence gives them a versatile defender who can check LeBron and Bosh if needed. But he also makes the team faster on both ends and that will help them match Miami's pace and smaller lineup. Anytime you are lined up against Gerald Wallace, you better bring a hard hat because its going to get physical and he will make you work for every inch on the floor.

3.The Nets are 9-2 in their last 11 games, with wins against the Celtics, Knicks and Clippers. Are they now in the championship contender discussion?

Scar: Sure. But then again, you can make that argument for just about any team with a winning record.

4.The HEAT have eked out three straight home games, relying on late-game heroics to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Do you see these games as positives or negatives for the HEAT?

Scar: Positive. The Heat had issues in years past with these close game situations. James, and Wade are excellent scorers, but their long ball left a lot to be desired. With Allen in Miami, nowadays we have someone who thrives in these last second, game winning opportunities. I mean if teams are going to continue to keep Allen open as LeBron or Wade drives to the basket, he is going to continue killing them softly, so to speak.

Backcourt Breakdown by Wuchuhurd

With Lopez out, their is more pressure for Brooklyn's backcourt to produce than their is for Miami's. Still Brooklyn's all star backcourt is capable of carrying the load and getting hot from deep which seems to be the trend from Miami's opponents lately. With that I expect JJ and Deron to get into the scoring early and often. Wade enjoyed a very nice and efficient scoring outing in the last meeting. It's important he gets off to a fast start to put Nets rotation in a bind and decide if they want to bring out Watson or Bogans for defensive purposes. Rio obviously has his hands full matched up against Deron. Getting Rio off to a fast start would also be great to buy time for Ray who otherwise would have trouble defensively against their backcourt. Ray picked up 5 fouls in just 26 minutes of play during the last meeting. Bottomline is that as long as the Heats backcourt stays toe to toe with the Nets, they should be in good shape seeing that Miami's frontcourt should have it easy against a Brookless lineup.

Frontcourt Breakdown by Scar

The match up to look for will be Crash vs the King. Wallace is a good enough player that he will pester LeBron whenever he is on the court. For the Nets, Wallace will provide the best defense against LeBron. That being said, LeBron has the obvious advantage in this match up. Wallace has been playing very well ever since he came back from his injury issue, but LeBron is one of those players that will annoy him on both ends of the court.

Who knows who will start at the PF spot for Miami going forward until Shane Battier comes back. It looks like Rashard Lewis will get the starting nod for the time being. Kris Humphries is a banger in the low post area, Lewis can bang with him, but Humphries is a physical presence that will steal a rebound or two away from him. What Lewis does have to his advantage is his long frame and the rejuvenation of his long ball. Lewis currently sits as a very deadly long range assassin and that should keep Humphries out on the perimeter more then he wants.

First Tim Duncan sits out a game and now Brook Lopez is missing a game due to a legitimate injury. Chris Bosh should play another very efficient game given the fact that the Nets will probably play small ball right along with the champs. Bosh currently sits as the highest scoring center in the NBA. The Nets will try placing Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans or maybe even Humphries on Bosh to try and quiet his hot start to the season. Bosh did have one of his poorer outings of the season against the Nets in their first meeting, except a bounce back game for him.

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I'm really hoping D.WADE asserts himself this game without forcing the issue.He has to get into a rhythm without overdoing it,let the game just come to him.It should be a competitive game,can't wait...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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This is not the same Nets squad we routed early in the season, and this will be a completely different game. They have great size at every position. Bogans is an ugly mfer. The last three sentences are all facts.

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I'm going to this game! Banane21.gifThis will be my first time of the big 3 era. Hopefully I'll see some LeBron and Wade fast break alley oops.

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I wonder will the WARDEN see any significant minutes tonight?SPO really need to start integrating JA into the rotation,it could pay dividends in the long run...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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No Lopez, so they don't have all that much size.

Blatche is their next biggest person.

Now we don't have to worry about lopez's 4 rebounds

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But if he played Miami, he would end up with 15. That is how it always has worked this year :D

he got 8 points, 7 rebounds last time he played us.

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You get what I'm saying though. I saw a stat that concerned me, in the 123 previous minutes Matt Bonner played before us he got 8 rebounds, and he got 10 rebounds in the 30 minutes he played against us.

that proves it!

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Deron and Lopez create some mismatches. Joe Johnson can take care of Wade without issue. I think this could be a Miami Loss if Nets play their cards right. Should be a fun game...it'll be close no doubt, could go either way. :D

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Deron and Lopez create some mismatches. Joe Johnson can take care of Wade without issue. I think this could be a Miami Loss if Nets play their cards right. Should be a fun game...it'll be close no doubt, could go either way. :D

Lopez is out genius

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