Heat finish strong to finish off Nets

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com


VIDEO: Heat rally late to finish off Nets, advance to East finals

MIAMI – The Miami Heat may not be as good as they were in previous seasons. But they sure know when they need to be at their best.

With another fourth-quarter comeback, the Heat finished their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Brooklyn Nets with a 96-94 victory in Game 5 on Wednesday. Dwyane Wade (28 points on 10-for-18 shooting) played his best game of the postseason, keeping his team in the game through the first three quarters, and his teammates finished the job in the final 12 minutes.

Over the course of the series, the Nets outscored the Heat by five points through the third period. But in the five fourth periods, Miami was a plus-32. That was the difference in the series and that is the difference between a good team and a championship team.

Basketball is a funny game. Ray Allen was 0-for-6 from 3-point range through the first 47 minutes on Wednesday. But when the Nets’ defense broke down with the game on the line in the final minute, Allen drained a 3 from the left corner – off another hockey assist from LeBron James – to give the Heat their first lead of the second half. Two stops later, they were heading to the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth straight year.

As a team, the Heat were 1-for-16 from beyond the arc in the first half and 3-for-19 at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth, they were 6-for-10. James and Chris Bosh each hit two, while Allen and Rashard Lewis hit one apiece.

Brooklyn had cut off the paint all night, successfully keeping James from doing what he had done two nights earlier. The Nets had shown some resilience, recovered from that deflating loss, played another strong game in the face of elimination, and led by eight points with less than three minutes to go. Joe Johnson was on fire once again, and it looked like he was taking this series back to Brooklyn for Game 6.

“He was torching me,” James said. “It got to a point where if I did not get stops on Joe Johnson, we are going to lose the game.”

But James locked down Johnson over the last four minutes, the Nets’ shots stopped falling, and the Heat’s did not. Ultimately, their shots were better shots.

“We just didn’t execute down the stretch,” Johnson said, “offensively or defensively.”

The Heat did execute, just like they’ve been doing for the last three years. Fourth quarters were a struggle in their first season together. They scored less than a point per fourth-quarter possession in the 2011 playoffs.

To say that they’ve figured things out since would be an understatement. They’ve been ridiculously efficient offensively in postseason fourth quarters over the last three years. In this series they scored 133 points on just 99 fourth-quarter possessions.

The Nets were right there with the champs in four of the five games. But they just couldn’t get the necessary stops down the stretch.

“The last two are really hard to take right now,” Deron Williams said, “because we could easily be up 3-2.”

While the Nets enter a summer with some big questions, the Heat are still playing with all the answers.

In their fourth season together, the Heat know exactly who they are. They have the best player in the league, who draws the attention of the entire defense. He doesn’t force anything and he trusts his teammates. As a group, they take what the defense gives them.

More importantly, the Heat don’t panic. And when you have talent, teamwork and resolve, you win big games.

“Overwhelmingly, the No. 1 key in this series was great mental stability,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You have to have throughout the course of each game, each possession. That’s what it was down the stretch. You can’t get caught up in frustrations, you can’t get caught up in trying to get a 10-point play. It just takes incredible focus, to concentrate one possession at a time.”

Whether this version of the Heat has a championship defense or a championship supporting cast remains to be seen. We may not know for another five weeks.

At this point, we do know that they can make plays when they have to.

20 Comments

  1. Blog-So-Hard-2014 says:

    Wow! Really? If only Miami were in the western conference

  2. Game Ball says:

    Just plain sore losers…. MIAMI HEAT in ECF just deal with it!!!!

    • The Miami Heat are the best when they are healthy and attacking the painted area. This allows the perimeter shots to fall and transition offense flow. Plus, they are a lockdown second half team.

  3. voiceofreason says:

    It is amazing how everyone sees the fouls Lebron gets away with, or how the refs help out the Heat. What about the constant punishment he takes throughout the season which by the way is not called. Funny how everyone sees the last few possessions. What about the last 4 minutes of the game. The Nets went cold plain and simple. At the end of the day, the refs impact every game and if you think about that way, every team that wins each game gets help from the refs in one way or another so it is not just the Heat.

  4. Dewey says:

    Love these comments, refs have missed plenty of calls. They did the right thing by giving nets the ball after video review. Don’t blame them for a series when Jason Kidd didn’t even prepare a final seconds play. The NBA isn’t rigged, just because a team continuosly dominates. None of you bat an eye in the wrong direction about MJ, so don’t deprive Lebron from what you all give the so called greatest of all time. RESPECT! #Truefanofthegame

  5. JimD54 says:

    Thank you ALWAYS RIGGED, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who sees that, the Heat gets ref help in every close game they play, no wonder, LeBron is so big now that he has his own cell phone app, there’s no way the league will let him lose this year, they may as well give Miami the trophy now so we can all start watching baseball…the cheating in the NBA has been something these last few years…..

  6. always rigged says:

    everyone forgetting the no call when lebaby slapped peirce’s wrist? shouldve been at the line for 2 to try to tie, but instead they have to take it out of bounds again with just over 4 seconds left. 4 years in a row we have had to watch lebaby get his way. the cold are supposed to be so great but constantly needs the help of the refs to win games. they may get to finals, shouldnt, but they might but there is no way in hell they beat the spurs.

  7. Josepe H. Morel says:

    i support what Peter. John Schumannmust need recognize that heat miami is good. says that the miami heat is not the same as past years. But not you realize that Miami is 8-1 on the series, as in the 2012-2013 seasonsupport what Peter says John Schumannmust

  8. Mike says:

    Completely agree with the first comment–I saw the same thing. Lebron all over Johnson, completely bumping him all over, no call. Literally the next possession, same bump delivered to Lebron by Johnson, but Lebron gets free throws. And yes, Kidd was saying that exact thing to the ref. I think everyone involved just wants consistentency. Whether the refs call a tight or loose game doesn’t matter–just be consistent on both ends.

    Knowing that, I think it may have been a mistake by the coaching staff to go to Johnson so much at the end of the game. I know he was having a great game, but he had to take some really difficult shots. Does anyone really think refs are going to call a foul on Lebron (in Miami no less) when Johnson has been lighting the Heat up the whole game? The Nets made the same mistake a lot in the playoffs–the inability to close games (offensively especially). They got away with it against Toronto (barely), but not against the Heat. Hopefully next season will be better!

  9. lakers says:

    Ray Allen so clutch….again Nets choke at end…NBA is so rigged ..these Refs need to be fined …Nets up 93-91 closing minutes of game..Joe Johnson drives on LEBUM WHO BUMPS HIM TWICE NO CALL ..JJ MISES SHOT AND ON NEXT POSSESSION LEBRON DRIVES ON JJ ..JJ BUMPS HIM AND FOUL CALLED ..LEBUM MAKES 2 FREE THROWS TIES GAME AND ALLEN MAKES 3 ..GAME OVER..U COULD EVEN SEE JKIDD TELLING REF HOW CAN U MAKE THAT CALL WHEN JJ GOT NO CALL..THE REF DIDNT EVEN LOOK AT HIM ..WHAT A JOKE ..NBA REFS ARE R THE WORST

  10. james says:

    i wish Spoltra could read this comment. the Heat sometimes seems to have frozen in times i,e they come to a point in the game where there is no movement from the players altough the ball is moving. to me this is a weakness that Spolstra needs to look into. and the result is always a jump shot…

  11. TG33 says:

    LeBron took a hit from alot of people for not shaking an opponents hand after a loss, but its ok for KG to do it 2 yrs in a row. SMH

  12. Gastón says:

    If James were treted like any other player in the NBA, things might be different. There were 2 clear fouls commited by him that weren´t called and might have changed the outcome of this game at least.

  13. Mike says:

    Fun fact of the day – Lebron James got more free throw attempts than the entire Nets team combined… Nobody is going to beat the Heat if the refs keep sending Lebron to the free throw line every time someone breaths on him…

  14. Peter says:

    John Schumann, please don’t write about the Miami Heat anymore. I know you are struggling to say how good they are.

  15. lee says:

    Not too fast, Pacers will give Miami a big challenge….

  16. Eric says:

    Miami beat the spurs
    Miami beat the thunder
    Miami vs clippers

  17. ,jsdnckjasd says:

    OKC-MIA Finals rematch was already set the day Durant made streaks of 20 or 40 something point games

  18. vincent says:

    The champions are waiting. Let’s get these other teams out of the way so we can start the real basketball game/rematch.

  19. albertoluispr says:

    Nice game, but they need to take it a little further should they face the Spurs in a rematch I think. They seem much more dominant than last season.