Monday, May 5, 2014
3-on-3: Breaking down the Heat vs. Nets
Paul Pierce and the Nets have a perfect record against the Heat this season.
After sweeping the Miami Heat during the regular season, do the Brooklyn Nets have an edge as the two teams prepare to battle in the second round of the playoffs? Our panel goes 3-on-3:
1. Fact or Fiction: The Heat's 0-4 record against the Nets this season is a cause for concern.
Israel Gutierrez: Fiction. It's not only that three wins were by a point and the other win was in double overtime, but also that the Heat, while playing well in short segments, weren't playing well consistently. Miami tends to play more consistently during the playoffs. And based on the Toronto series, the Nets will show their age at times, which Miami can take advantage of by running far better than the Raptors did.
Tom Haberstroh: Fiction. Here's how the margin at the end of regulation looked in the four games: Brooklyn plus-one, Brooklyn plus-one, tied, Brooklyn plus-one. If the Heat were getting blown out of every game, then it would be a concern. They picked heads four times, came up tails.
Michael Wallace: Fact. There were no fluke performances among the four games. There were three one-point games and another decided in overtime. The Heat have some real matchup issues with the combination of length, skill and experience. If the Nets can dictate their pace and protect the ball, they can cause Miami some real problems.
2. Fact or Fiction: When the ball is tipped in Game 1, the Heat will have the three best players on the floor.
Gutierrez: Fiction. At least not based on production. The Nets can claim either Deron Williams or Joe Johnson as better than either Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade in any given game, especially if you're going by final stat lines. Johnson and/or Williams will be required to be at their best for the Nets to have a chance in this series, so if Miami proves to have the three best players, it'll be a short series.
Haberstroh: Fact. But the Nets probably have four through 12, which may not matter as much in the playoffs. Dwyane Wade hasn't played much, but when he does, he's still a top player in the league. Joe Johnson bludgeoned Toronto's wings, but I don't see that happening against Miami.
Wallace: Fiction. Paul Pierce may not be close to what he was in his prime, but he's found a way to turn back the clock against the Heat. I'm sure Joe Johnson would object to this premise as well. This series will be determined as much by the next three in the respective rotations as much as by the best three on either side.
3. Fact or Fiction: The Heat wrap this series up in 5 games or fewer.
Gutierrez: Fact. I've got it ending in five, in part because the Heat were able to rest and probably had the Nets in mind the entire time they were waiting. Once the Heat adjust to Brooklyn's size on the wing and their paint-protecting defense, Miami will have a relatively easy time.
Haberstroh: Fiction. The Dwyane Wade factor looms large, but I don't think the Heat put on the gentleman's sweep. Wade, timely rest and a motivated LeBron James will make the regular-season sweep a mirage, but it will take six games to do so.
Wallace: Fiction. I'm taking the over, with this being settled in six or seven games. Pierce and Kevin Garnett have a reputation for making things drag out when facing LeBron and the Heat. Different team, same drama.