With season on the brink, Nets face must-win Game 5 in Miami

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com


VIDEO: Nets-Heat Game 5 preview

NEW YORK —  It was almost two weeks ago that the Brooklyn Nets found themselves on the brink of playoff elimination. Down three games to two in the first round, the Nets won in Brooklyn and managed to force a deciding Game 7 back in Toronto, which they won.

Wednesday in Miami, the Nets will once again stare elimination in the face. This time, however, elimination has LeBron James on its team. Winning two in a row against Toronto was no small feat, but winning three in a row against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat presents Brooklyn with its toughest test yet.

It’s Game 5. We understand what’s at stake,” Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd said on Tuesday morning. “It’s Game 7 for us now — we lose, it’s over; we win, we fight another day. So we just focus on one quarter at a time. We understand the emotion of the game, so we understand what’s at stake. But the big thing is, execute our game plan and give ourselves an opportunity to win.”

Despite giving up 49 points to James in Game 4 in Brooklyn on Monday night, the Nets had every opportunity to win. The score was tied at 94 with 2:30 to play, but the Heat outscored the Nets 8-2 down the stretch. That failure to score was partly due to the Nets’ offense bogging down into too many isolation sets — they ran several for Joe Johnson — instead of moving the ball and finding open players.

“You know, it’s tough to just give one guy the ball and say, ‘Bail us out'” Nets guard Shaun Livingston said following Game 3. “They gave Bron the ball, but you see they had some movement, they ran some plays. I think that’s what we have to be better at as a whole.”

Poor shooting wasn’t only a fourth-quarter problem for the Nets in Game 4. After shooting 15-of-25 from behind the 3-point arc in Game 3, the Nets went just 5-of-22 in Game 4.

“We had some good looks,” said Kidd. “We knew coming in they were going to run us off the three, and we probably took a couple of bad threes. But overall we’ve got to attack, we’ve got to take twos. There’s nothing wrong with taking twos.”

Defensively, stopping (or at least slowing down) James will remain the primary theme. After scoring 16 in the first quarter of Game 3, the Nets held James to a combined 12 the rest of the way. In Game 4, though, James seemed to be putting on a tribute to the offense used in Cleveland under recently fired Mike Brown. He dominated the ball, lowered his head and drove to the rim again and again, finishing 11-for-12 in the restricted area.

“You can’t allow a player like that to constantly get in the paint all night,” said Paul Pierce, who announced he would be willing to take on the challenge of defending James, then picked up two fouls early in Game 4 and spent the rest of the night trying to avoid foul trouble. “He did a good job shrinking the court and getting one-on-one opportunities.”

If the Nets were looking for a silver lining, while James was pouring in buckets, he wasn’t able to consistently involve his teammates. With James taking on so much of the scoring load, the crisp, quick passing that makes the Heat so dangerous basically came to a halt.

“One guy obviously can score a lot of points, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s hurting you,” Kevin Garnett said. “Where they are deadly is when Ray [Allen] has 13 to 16, [Chris] Bosh has 16 to 20, [Shane] Battier has 9 to 10, and so on and so on. That’s hard. But when you can lock into one guy and kind of steer and understand where things are coming from, it’s kind of pretty much controllable. Where they hurt you is with ball movement and the other guys hitting shots.”

With the do-or-die Game 5 in mind, the Nets seem clear on what adjustments need to be made. Now it’s just an issue of actually implementing them. After a summer of high-profile moves designed the make the Nets a genuine championship contender, they currently stand one loss away from a second-round exit.

“It’s an uphill battle,” said Livingston. “We’ve been in a war, been in a fight, so we just have to stay confident and go steal one.”

“Shoulda coulda woulda doesn’t help us at this point,” said Garnett. “We’ll take this a game at a time.”

12 Comments

  1. On fire says:

    Heat to the nba finals

  2. Mark Melius says:

    Lebron does not want to give the Nets not even the slightest change of redemption. It will be a beat down in Miami and the Heat will win and enter the ECF yet again. Once they get to the ECF, there is no stopping them. They are going to make it to the NBA finals again. It looks like a Heat 3peat.

  3. TMac says:

    Not sure why Paul P wanted to guard Lebron when Lebron scores a lot when Paul guards him. Paul P has his moments on defense, but not good enough to guard Lebron. If anybody should guard Lebron it is Joe J. He should guard Lebron every game seeing that Joe is the most athletic out of the whole Nets team.

  4. jdub455 says:

    Nope KG, this series is over! There goes the 4-0 hype during the season… Lol! Next season with Lopez back, it can be a different story…. But that is a big “IF” of course… especially that their definitely an older team…

  5. okc2014 says:

    The Nets hung in there. It’s all over tomorrow.

  6. Moses says:

    Do you guys really expected Nets to win or you guys hoping for a miracle that they will beat Miami

  7. Kunjaymaster says:

    Pierce is like that hard headed, showoff wanna be you played with in the park who thinks is the best only in his mind. Always talking trash and then has a hard time living up to it. You go to media saying you asked to defend Lebron and on the next game he drops 49 on your head…Yikes, that should be enough to make you retire right there.

  8. jkidd says:

    Err….game 7 was played in Toronto. nice proofreading.

  9. thespectator says:

    this is a wrap, miami aint allowing this to go any further, up 3-1 in miami, please….lets all get ready for the ECF, rematch of last years..

  10. grantstern says:

    To recap: Iso Joe hurt his team in isolation plays, LeBron carried his team to victory in isolation plays.

  11. lakers says:

    MAYBE DWILL AND JKIDD SHOULD SWAP ROLES…KIDD CANT COACH AND DWILL CHOKES IN PLAYOFF GAMES…