- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN New York Writer
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It’s win or go home for the Brooklyn Nets, who face the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Miami leads the best-of-seven playoff series, 3-1. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
Do or die: With their season on the brink, the Nets must win to avoid elimination. Only eight teams out of 217 in NBA history have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. That’s 3.7 percent. The last team to do it? The 2006 Phoenix Suns against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Brooklyn can’t afford to look ahead. It needs to just focus on Game 5 in Miami. One game at a time, it is. The Nets must play like a desperate team.
The King’s court: LeBron James had a playoff career-high tying 49 points in Game 4. He’s averaging 30.3 points during the series on 59.7 percent shooting. The Nets have stuck a bunch of defenders on James. None have been able to guard him. Then again, how many players in the league actually can? (Maybe a handful can possibly contain him). Brooklyn has to try and get James to beat it with jump shots. Much, much, much easier said than done.
Ugh, Deron: Deron Williams is averaging just 10.2 points and 7.0 assists on 34.2 percent shooting -- including 1-for-9 shooting in the fourth quarter -- during the series. The Heat have done a fantastic job of taking him away. The Nets desperately need their $98 million point guard to step up. It’s now or never.
Things we wonder: Does Nets coach Jason Kidd make any adjustments with his team’s back against the wall like he did in its first-round series against the Toronto Raptors down 3-2? What will Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett bring to the table in this one? Will Joe Johnson be affected by his minor left hand injury, which Kidd said was sore but fine on Tuesday? What’s up with the Heat’s supporting cast?
It’s win or go home for the Brooklyn Nets, who face the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.