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W2W4: Nets vs. Heat, Game 4

5/12/2014

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets have beaten the Miami Heat once, but they can’t afford to rest on their laurels. The Nets face yet another must-win game on Monday night, when they face the two-time defending champions at Barclays Center in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Heat lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

Not unbeatable: That was Paul Pierce’s message to his teammates. The Nets know they can beat the Heat. They did it four times in the regular season and once more in the playoffs. But that means nothing. Going down 3-1 would make it nearly impossible to win the series. In fact, NBA teams are 209-8 (.963) in best-of-seven series when going up 3-1, which means only 3.7 percent of teams came back.

Containing LeBron: LeBron James had 16 points in the first quarter of Game 3, but scored just 12 in the final three quarters on 2-for-8 shooting. Pierce has primarily been guarding James, but the Nets have had nine guys on him during the series at different points. The key to trying to contain the best player on the planet is keeping him out of the paint and making him beat you from the perimeter. Expect James to be extremely motivated in Game 4 following his team’s 14-point loss on Saturday night.

See the 3, be the 3: The Nets hit a franchise playoff-record 15 3-pointers in their 104-90 victory. Joe Johnson went 5-for-7 from beyond the arc, while Mirza Teletovic hit three triples in the third quarter. Shooting 60 percent is unsustainable, but Brooklyn has been able to get its share of open 3s all series long. Making most of them would certainly give the Nets a chance to win on Monday night.

Things we wonder: Which Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett will show up? Can the Nets dominate the boards while staying close in the paint again? Will one of Brooklyn’s bench guys heat up?