Heading into the fourth quarter of Tuesday's Game One matchup between the Brooklyn Nets and the Miami Heat, the Heat carried a 13-point lead, to which Nets' head coach Jason Kidd responded by pulling his starters and not returning Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson for the rest of the game.
It was an interesting move, and one which Nets fans spent most of the fourth quarter questioning, when the game was still relatively "close," yet Kidd seemed resigned to letting his bench play this one out.
The lineup -- Shaun Livingston, Marcus Thornton, Andrei Kirilenko, Mirza Teletovic and Mason Plumlee -- didn't do itself any favors, allowing the Heat, who had returned their starters, to runaway with the game, taking off at about the 8-minute mark.
After the game, Kidd said that he was trying to give the starters rest, saying, "[W]hen we went with that group -- the reserves -- I felt that that group could make shots but also get some stops and get it to where it’s under 10, and then go from there, but it never happened."
I suppose you can't fault Kidd for allowing his starters to get some rest, but what seems to be puzzling is why he rested them all at once. Yes, Livingston was in there, so technically he did have a starter in that lineup, but if you're resting Williams, Johnson, Pierce and even Garnett all at the same time, it's hard not to imagine the game getting out of hand against the two-time defending champs.
The Nets' starters responded as you would imagine, with Williams saying he wanted to be out there, "but that was Coach's decision." Pierce added a similar sentiment, saying that it was indeed Kidd's decision and that the starters are "sticking with him all the way...we're trusting him."
Garnett did get in the game for a spot in the fourth, playing just over a minute. He responded in a way that only Kevin Garnett can respond, saying, "Jason Kidd told me to sub in for Mason [Plumlee]. And then he subbed me out. Following directions, dog. Following directions."
At a point, true, you have to think that a double-digit lead is insurmountable in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat, but was the start of the fourth quarter too early to wave the white flag, dog? We can second guess, we can play Wednesday morning...armchair coach?...but should the Nets enter Thursday night, rested, and even up the series on their way home, most Nets fans will simply tip their cap, forget about Game One and be happy that they were able to steal a game on the road.
Now, all they need to do is beat the Heat in Miami where they've lost just nine time all year. It's not going to be easy, dog.
- Kidd's plan to rest Nets in 4th backfires - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN
- Film Study: Heat beat Nets at the basket - John Schuhmann - NBA.com
- Jason Kidd calls it an early night for Nets starters in loss to Heat - Mitch Lawrence - NY Daily News
- NBA playoff scores, results and highlights from Tuesday's action: Heat and Spurs roll - SB Nation