Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: South Beach Showdown

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

BROOKLYN NETS: The Heat Is On Visiting Brooklyn.

It's time to play in their house now.  The Nets two victories over the Heat this season came at Barclays Center.  Tonight is the first showdown in South Beach.  The two will stage their last regular season meeting in April.

This evening's match-up features the current #2 and #6 teams in the Eastern Conference.  With just 20 games left in the regular season, these teams could very well be heading towards a first or second round encounter.

In their previous meetings, Brooklyn took the Heat down to the final seconds of regulation, and needed overtime in their second meeting, in order to snatch a pair of victories away from Miami.  Therefore, there is much to read into tonight's game.

Kevin Garnett remains out of action with a cranky back.  He has yet to play in March, in which the Nets have posted a 5-1 record.  Among several key reasons, Paul Pierce has been paramount to Brooklyn's success lately, but he enters the game still nursing a sore shoulder.  Some of this should not have come unexpected.  Upon the acquisition, we sensed any nagging injuries at Garnett's and Pierce's age would potentially pose late season problems.

But back then, we also felt bench depth would prevail.  Well, here we are, and so far, Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee are performing well in place of Garnett.  They'll need to keep it up.  Working against Kevin Garnett's ability to help the team down the stretch, are a series of back-to-back games.  Brooklyn only has one set in March, so this is the time for KG to get healthy.  But in April, Brooklyn faces four back-to-back sets before the regular season ends on the 16th.

LeBron James will no doubt get his points, especially at home, but Mr. Big Shot, Joe Johnson, will need to score his share of points as well.  Minus Brook Lopez, he has been Brooklyn's top scorer, averaging 15.2 points per game this season.  He's had a hot touch of late, shooting 53% from the floor over his last five games.  Joe is a 44% shooter for the season.

The Nets closed to within three games of the Atlantic Division lead, with a victory over Toronto on Monday The Raptors host the substandard Pistons tonight.


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