Nets keeping cool as Heat loom

NEW YORK -- If history is any indication, the Brooklyn Nets would probably be better off throwing Wednesday night’s game against the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Before you get all bent out of shape over this seemingly ridiculous premise, allow us to explain with a little help from our friends over at ESPN Stats & Information.

The Nets, of course, are 2-0 against the two-time defending champions this season. They beat the Heat by a point in their home-opener on Nov. 1, then dispatched of Miami again, this time in double-overtime on Jan. 10 at Barclays Center.

Impressive, especially when you consider that entering the 2013-14 campaign, the Nets were 0-9 against the Heat during the Big Three era, losing by an average of 17.3 points.

Which brings us to this: During the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh era (since 2010-11), the Heat have lost to the same team three times in a regular season on four previous occasions.

Miami has faced three of those teams in the playoffs -- and eliminated each one of them.

2010-11 Chicago Bulls (0-3) -- ousted

2010-11 Boston Celtics (1-3) -- ousted

2011-12 Boston Celtics (1-3) -- ousted

2012-13 New York Knicks (1-3) -- ousted ... by the Indiana Pacers

Brooklyn and Miami meet again on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena -- but rest-assured the Nets are going to be playing to win.

They are trying to get homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs, after all. And facing the Heat in the postseason is probably inevitable -- at least if Brooklyn has aspirations of advancing far, anyway ... which it does.

“We know they’re gonna try to come out and slap us from the start,” Shaun Livingston said. “They’re obviously trying to get back on track. The last two games we played them we had some success, so that’s gonna be in the back of their mind, and we’ve gotta come out and match their intensity.”

Added Deron Williams: “Another big game. We beat them twice at home, so we know they’re gonna want revenge.”

LeBron James is averaging 31.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 57.5 percent shooting in the first two meetings. He’s scored 20 or more points in each of his last 22 games against the Nets, the second-longest streak of 20-point games versus the Nets in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The only player with a longer streak is Michael Jordan, who scored 20-plus points in 39 consecutive games.

Livingston could get the assignment of guarding James, but he won’t be defending the four-time MVP by his lonesome.

“I don’t think just one person can try to stop LeBron,” Deron Williams said. “I think it’s a total team effort. You watch the Chicago game and it wasn’t just Jimmy Butler. It was their whole team. You have to pay a lot of attention to him, but at the same time, they’ve got so many great players, it’s just tough.”

The fact that they may again be without Kevin Garnett (back) and Andrei Kirilenko (ankle) could make it that much tougher.

Still ...

At this point, the Nets know every game is crucial. Only three games separate sixth-seeded Brooklyn and third-seeded/Atlantic Division-leading Toronto (35-27) in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

“Every game right now. Every game is big,” Paul Pierce said. “We’ve got 20 games left. Every game means something as far as moving up in the standings. Where you’re going to be, how you’re going to position yourself either for homecourt or going on the road in the first round, so all these games are huge.

“Everybody is so clumped up together, outside of Miami and Indiana. You see Washington, you see Chicago, you see us right there, and Toronto also. All those four teams change week by week right now, so it’s up to us to get ourselves in the best position possible come the playoffs.”