Johnson: 'I think we match up great'
"I think we match up great," Joe Johnson said of facing the Heat. "Because having Paul [Pierce] at the four, I think they'll have more of a smaller four, and probably not as physical. So I think it could kind of play into our hands a little bit, but we'll see what happens."
The Nets swept the Heat, 4-0, in the regular season, becoming the first team since 2007-08 to take four games from the Heat in a regular-season series.
Prior to this season, James had never lost all four meetings to one team in a regular season in his NBA career.
Pierce believes the Nets pose a problem in that any one of at least five Nets could be the main scorer on any night.
"I think we are unpredictable," Pierce said of what might present an issue for the Heat. "For the simple fact that even though Joe, he's our leading scorer, but on any given night we've got guys that can step up and be that guy.
"A lot of the contenders, you pretty much know what they present," Pierce added. "Especially with Miami. It's going to be a lot of LeBron, a lot of Wade, a lot of [Chris] Bosh. With us, I think we have about five, six, seven guys that on any given night [can be the guy]. ... So I think that makes us tough to scout and very unpredictable."
While the Nets are quick to dismiss regular-season results, they do enter this best-of-seven series knowing that they won three of their previous meetings with the champs by one point each. The other victory came in double overtime. So they feel they can come through in a tight game against Miami.
The Nets feel that they can present some problems with their perimeter players and their length. The Nets try to exploit matchups with Johnson, Pierce and Shaun Livingston -- all stand 6-foot-7 -- posting up and creating for teammates. If James defends Johnson to try to take his post-ups away, the Nets could counter with Livingston -- who likely will return to the starting lineup after coming off the bench in the last two games -- or Pierce and work through them inside out.
They also believe they can throw different bodies at James and Wade as well.
"It's been great keeping fresh bodies on guys like LeBron and D-Wade, and just making it tough for them," Johnson said. "We understand they have a great supporting cast and have a lot of guys that can make shots, so it's going to be a tough series."
Pierce also believes that the Nets' depth will play a factor in this series. Coach Jason Kidd can go 11 deep.
For Pierce and Kevin Garnett, this will be their fifth time facing James in seven postseasons. They have played each other in 25 postseason games with James holding a 13-12 edge over Pierce and Garnett.
Their last playoff meeting in 2012 went seven games, with Miami surviving against Boston in the Eastern Conference finals.
"They are two championships in now," Pierce said of how different Miami is now compared to the last time he saw them in the postseason. "They've got a lot of confidence, they know they can win, they've been in every situation.
"They've grown," he added. "That's the difference. Two, three years ago, they weren't champions."
Still, Pierce and the Nets relish this opportunity to face the Heat. The Nets' roster cost nearly $200 million in salary and luxury tax to assemble. They were built to beat the Heat and win a title.
"The goal hasn't changed since the beginning of the season," Pierce said. "Our goal when we came in here at the beginning was to win a championship. We understand that in order to do that, you've got to go through the best.
"Miami being that team over the last couple of years, we figured this was going to be a test for us, this was going to be a series that we would have to see if we are going to accomplish our goal. As far as saying at least matching up with them, we feel like we are ready for whoever."
Notes: Deron Williams said he had an injection to his ankle after rolling it in Game 6 against Toronto.
"I got an injection right after the game," Williams said. "Kind of knocked all the swelling out of it. I'll be ready to go."
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