Nets look to tie the series vs. Heat

Elsa

Home is where the three point shooting is. The Brooklyn Nets returned to Barclays Center looking to get back in the series and avoid a 3-0 series deficit. Thanks to a team playoff record 15 three pointers, the Nets came away with an impressive 104-90 win over the defending Champion Miami Heat. Miami still leads the series 2-1.

The big news over the weekend, Paul Pierce telling his teammates that the Heat are unbeatable and that he wants the assignment on LeBron James.

The numbers

What's the story behind these teams' play so far? Let's check the numbers:

2013-2014 playoffs

Brooklyn

Miami

Pace

89.15 89.09

Offensive Efficiency

107.8 112.1

Defensive Efficiency

107.6 102.5

Offensive Rebounding percentage

23.5 14.3

Turnover rate

14 11.2

Assist rate

15.8 17.1

Rebound rate

49.1 47.1

Free throw rate

34.1 31.5

Effective Field Goal percentage

51.8 55.2

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

51 52

Throughout much of his career, Joe Johnson has received criticism for struggling in the postseason. Through ten games this year, that hasn't been the case at all. He's averaging a career high 20.2 points per game during the playoffs and is shooting 53.4 percent from the field. Johnson is good in the post (primarily the left block throughout the season), but he's even more dangerous from deep. He made five three pointers on Saturday, two of which came in transition. If the Nets can speed things up a bit, Johnson will continue to get good looks from deep.

Deron Williams didn't shoot well, but he more than made up for it by orchestrating the Brooklyn offense. He picked up 11 assists to only two turnovers and was a +18 during his 39:40. Williams doesn't need to score to be effective and as long as he's aggressive going to the basket and getting his teammates good looks, he'll be helping the Nets' cause. If he comes out flat, like he has a few too many times this playoff, the Nets offense will short circuit.

When asked who would be the X-factor in this series during our roundtable, I answered:

I'll go with Mirza Teletovic. He played well against Miami this year, is a good enough rebounder & has enough size to pester LeBron when he's in the post. I picked him for this last round, but he didn't really get to do it, but with LeBron and #BigshotBosh on the other side, I think he'll see some more minutes.

One thing I should have added was his ability to space the floor, which has come in handy the last two games. He's made ten three pointers over the last two games and snatched up six rebounds on Saturday. Ball movement is crucial in beating Miami and if they can snap the ball around the perimeter, Teletovic and the other Nets will have good looks from downtown.

We haven't seen as much of Andrei Kirilenko as we thought, but he still provides value. He's got enough length to guard bigger players, is pretty quick and is an adroit passer. Coming into Saturday's game, Reed wrote:

Brooklyn has looked very old through two games against the statistically older Heat. The team needs Kirilenko out there to get the off-ball offense to work more and be more active. Thirty percent of Kirilenko's offense came off of cuts this season, per Synergy Sports Technology, the most common form of his offense this season. If a defender takes his eye off of Kirilenko for a second, he already lost him. AK has a very high basketball IQ and can make all different kinds of plays and his hustle could be used from this slow-moving Nets team right now.

He shouldn't get another DNP this series.

One big adjustment the Nets have made as this series has progressed is limiting Miami's points in the paint. After scoring 52 paint points in Game One, they've scored 34 and 26 in the last two games. What the Nets have been doing to slow down Dwyane Wade and the other Heat is packing the paint and keeping them on the perimeter. Wade ended up scoring 20 points, but only attempted four free throws and didn't have that many driving opportunities.

After the first quarter, it looked like LeBron James was gonna have one of those games. He scored 16 first quarter points and attacked the Nets in a variety of ways. He hit two three pointers, one jumper from the high post and completed a three point play after being on the receiving end of Paul Pierce's old man foul. He didn't end up going bonkers, but still ended up with a more than good 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists. The Nets are gonna continue to throw different looks at him, but Pierce is probably the best match for James. Pierce is big enough to not be bothered by James' size in the post and will play him very physically throughout the game. He won't stop him, but it doesn't hurt to rough him up. During the broadcast, the announcers mentioned that James would take over if he felt that his teammates were flat and/or not playing up to their Championship standard. If they fall into a rut to start the game, James is gonna take it upon himself to derail the Nets and the crowd.

If the Heat are looking to provide some more floor spacing, they can get James Jones more minutes. The eleven year veteran (yes, we're getting old) had a true shooting percentage of 66.6 (#staywoke) during the regular season, but only played 20 games. He's kept it going this postseason, amassing a TS% of 68.4. The numbers tell you enough, but let Hot Hot Hoops' Jordan Nedlin tell you some more:

Of the 16 3’s he took in the first round, he hit seven of them. Jones also saw his first action of the second round last night albeit in garbage time when the Heat had no real chance at a comeback. He went on to hit all three of his 3’s, just another ho-hum night for the gunslinger. In the Heat's offense, which is mostly predicated on LeBron driving and finding the open man it is imperative that the shooter find the bottom of the net. For Jones to be hitting just about 1 of every 2 shots he takes in this postseason there should be no reason why he should be riding the bench.

It ain't like Rashard Lewis is providing that much value to the team. Look for Jones to get playing time earlier in the game.

Seeing as how this is the playoffs, things will get a little testy. And with that in mind, it was no surprise to see Alan Anderson and Ray Allen get into a mini tussle during the game. Luckily, they didn't go near the Queen so they're OK.

Throughout the season, these were two of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA. They were also the league leaders in forcing turnovers. The Nets ended up winning the rebounding battle by 16 and kept the turnover margin close. With Kirilenko and Teletovic getting minutes, the Nets' centers trio has been reduced to a tag team. Kevin Garnett and Andray Blatche had their best games of the series, combining for 25 points and 17 rebounds. If they can control the glass and thwart off Heat players driving to the rim, they can keep Miami on the perimeter and force them into difficult jump shots.

Player to watch: Chris Bosh

With James punishing teams in the low post, #BigshotBosh can operate in the high post. Bosh has been one of the better shooters from the mid-range area since he came into the league, and kept it up during the year. Bosh has the ability to spread the floor and that frees up space for James and Wade in the post as well as Allen + friends when they cut to the basket.

Bosh's length is extremely helpful for him on defense. As reported by our friends over at HHH,  He can also hold his own when guarding players on the perimeter, and he can keep the defense intact when he switches on to a guard. When teams take shots at the rim when he is defending, opponents are shooting only 46.4 percent.

The Heat are gonna need to do better on the glass, and Bosh is the person that can help. His rebound rate isn't that impressive, but he does a great job of grabbing the rebounds that are available to him. This might be a moot point if the Heat can force the Nets into more turnovers, but it'll be nice for the Heat to not be a -16 on the glass. On offense, he'll help drag Garnett and Blatche away from the basket with his shooting in the high post. And if the game is close, #BigshotBosh.

From the Vault

Remember when Dwyane Wade had to deal with Garnett, Pierce and friends by himself?


More reading: Hot Hot Hoops

TV coverage

Tip off will be a shade after 8 PM and will air on TNT. As for radio, you know the drill by now. Yankees regular season baseball means the Nets will be on WCBS 880 AM. YES Network will have post game coverage once the Yankees and Mets wrap up, so expect it around 11:30, and that's being conservative.

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