Nets look to earn a split in Miami

A perfect 10! - Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

That didn't go well. After playing a close first half, the Miami Heat dominated in the second half and came away with a 107-86 win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game One of their Conference Semifinals series.

The numbers

Here's how the Nets and Heat have fared in the playoffs:

2013-2014 playoffs

Brooklyn

Miami

Pace

90.47 91.16

Offensive Efficiency

107.5 112.3

Defensive Efficiency

106.7 100

Offensive Rebounding percentage

22.1 14.1

Turnover rate

13 11.4

Assist rate

15.1 18

Rebound rate

47 49.1

Free throw rate

37.5 31.7

Effective Field Goal percentage

51 55.7

Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage

50.3 50.8

Jason Kidd didn't go back to his big players during the fourth quarter. Paul Pierce, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson all sat out the fourth while Kevin Garnett appeared for only 1:16. Coming into the game, I thought the Nets would get blown out due to a high level of fatigue after traveling from Brooklyn to Toronto to Miami in a short time frame. Why'd Kidd do it? He said:

[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."

Alrighty. If the same scenario presents itself at the beginning of the fourth quarter in Game Two, I'm betting he won't employ the same strategy again.

One positive from Game One for Brooklyn was the continued success of Johnson. Johnson scored 17 points and made three three pointers. He mad a lot of success against Shane Battier (getting his first run of extended playing time in a while), scoring seven points when he was matched up against Shane. Miami did throw a few double teams at Johnson when was in the low post, but he was able to work around them. If the game is close for longer periods of time, look for LeBron James to guard Johnson for longer stretches. With James, the Heat won't need to double at all and that can allow them to stay with the other Nets on the floor.

What can you do to slow down LeBron James? If you play him straight up, he'll bully you in the low post. When you double team him, he'll find the open man every single time. When you play off of him with the hop[e of keeping him on the perimeter, he'll knock down a jumper from the high post. The Nets will have another chance to slow the King down, but so far they're off to a bad start. He scored 22 points on 10-15 from the field and 14 of them came in the paint.  Interior defense was a big problem for Brooklyn in Game One and it's one they need to fix ASAP. During our roundtable, we took turns discussing what the Nets could do against James. Brooklyn threw a variety of looks at him, but none of them worked. What they could do here is put Shaun Livingston on him for longer stretches. Livingston did have some good stretches guarding LeBron in the regular season, although he is clearly undersized and will be at risk once James gets into the post. And of course if they do double him, Mario Chalmers, Battier and friends will knock down their open jump shots.

The front court matchups are interesting, and Chris Bosh outperformed Brooklyn's three centers by himself. Bosh picked up 15 points and 11 rebounds in 30:33. Garnett, Mason Plumlee had eight points and 11 rebounds. Obviously Brooklyn is going to need much better performances from those three in the box score as well as in protecting the basket. The Nets will need to be much more communicative on defense. The Heat got a lot of easy paint baskets as a result of the Nets not rotating to the correct man or calling out cutters going to the basket.

Player to watch: Ray Allen

Allen probably had the worst playoff series of his career against the Bobcats. He only scored 13 points total in the series and shot 26 percent from the field without getting to the free throw line once. Allen looked like his old self on Tuesday evening, scoring 19 points, making four three pointers and looking more active then he was in the Charlotte series.

With all of the attention being given to James, Allen will always receive good looks. Miami is always to make the extra pass to find a shooter wide open from deep (they lead the playoffs in both assist rate and three point percentage). With that in mind, the Nets' rotations on defense have to be sharp. Allen got a couple of open looks in Game One (which he made of course) due to the Nets coming off of him to help on other Heat players. Coming off of Allen to help on other players is a dangerous proposition and is one that need not be continued.

From the Vault

In the other Eastern Conference Semifinal series, the Wizards are playing the Indiana Pacers and the series is tiedat one. They're gonna be rooting for Brooklyn because they don't wanna have to deal with Dwyane Wade in the postseason again.


More reading: Hot Hot Hoops

TV Coverage

With the NFL Draft taking place on Thursday evening, the game will be on ESPN2. Tip off is at seven PM and the game will also be airing on WFAN for those not near a television.

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