<
>

Starting Five: Nets, take the Heat ... or else

Just how important is it for the Brooklyn Nets to leave Miami with a split?

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Heat are a perfect 6-0 in playoff series when taking a 2-0 lead in the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh era. The Nets are 0-4 all time when trailing 0-2 in a best-of-seven series. And overall, teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series go on to win the series 93.8 percent of the time (242-16).

Basically, if the Heat win Game 2 on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Nets could be in for a second-round exit.

And that’s something they want to avoid.

This opportunity, to face the two-time defending champions in the playoffs, was what the Nets worked for dating all the way back to the summer, when general manager Billy King hired Jason Kidd and acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

As King said recently on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd, the Nets were built so that they could beat the Heat.

Well, this is their chance. And so far, so bad.

In Game 1, the Nets got destroyed in the paint and settled for too many isolation plays on offense. And the Heat, to the surprise of no one, made them pay.

Brooklyn must make the necessary adjustments in Game 2 and at least give itself a chance. A respectable showing in this series would be really good for the Nets’ brand.

The first-round win over the Toronto Raptors was great.

But really competing against the Heat -- even if they ultimately lose the series -- would go a long way toward really building something.

Question: How important to do you think this series is to Brooklyn’s brand? Let us know in the comments section.

In case you missed it: The Nets remain confident despite trailing 1-0. One of their lone bright spots was Deron Williams.

Stat to know: The Heat outrebounded the Nets 37-32 in Game 1. The Nets averaged 6.3 more rebounds per game than the Heat in four head-to-head meetings between the teams during the regular season.

Up next: Game 2 on Thursday night (7 p.m., ESPN2) at AmericanAirlines Arena.