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E-Mailing with the Enemy: Miami Heat

Dennis Velasco does the question tango with Isaac Koppel from the excellent Hot Hot Hoops blog about tonight's possible benchmark game for the Nets versus LeBron James and Company.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

1) The Miami Heat come back to Barclays Center to face the Brooklyn Nets, and I'm scared this time around. First of all, our two main players - Brook Lopez and Deron Wiliams - are out and the Heat are coming off a loss across the East River to the New York Knicks. I can only hope that Miami plays for 48 minutes the way they did that end of the fourth quarter last night. What happened? They played like they were tired and seemed to concede the loss with two minutes left.

I wish I could explain what happened last night, but the truth is, I can’t. It’s one of the most bizarre games I can remember from the Big 3 era in Miami. There were times last night, and I tweeted as much at the time, that I felt like the guys were struggling with their hand eye coordination. There was one play in particular where LeBron tried to dump the ball off to Bosh on the baseline, and CB just fell over. That doesn’t happen. That, combined with some ridiculous overpassing down the stretch, mixed with some actual "effort" from the Knicks led to the Heat’s ultimate downfall.

Previewing Tonight's Nets-Heat Game

2) Thus far, LeBron James' stats, though still pretty freakin' good, are below his averages from last season. The only uptick is in field goal percentage, going from 56.5 percent to 59.2, although he's also taking 1.8 shots less from the floor. Sometimes I get a sense that he's just coasting, which sounds weird when you consider how amazing LeBron still is. Do you think it's a matter of kind of saving himself for the playoffs because while young in normal people years, he played his 800th regular season game last night?

Watching LeBron play is always an adventure, because you never know what you’re going to get. In the past, I’ve noticed he spends the first couple minutes of the game basically scouting his opponent, seeing what they’re going to throw at him, and basically being a bystander while he tries to get his teammates going. This year, I think he’s spent a little more time watching than he normally does. I don’t mean that as a criticism, as he’s obviously been great at picking his spots, but I think his approach has changed a bit this regular season. That change in approach probably has a lot to do with the great season’s we’re seeing from role players like Rashard Lewis, Norris Cole, and Michael Beasley. Come playoff time, however, I think we’ll see LeBron assert his dominance on offense from the opening tip and take things in to his own hands.

3) When Michael Beasley has played (23 games; 18 minutes per), he's been relatively awesome (10.4 points on 51.6 shooting from deck and 4.2 rebounds). Why not play him more? Couldn't some of Rashard Lewis' 19 minutes of play (34 games) per contest go to Beas? Is it a matter of match-ups or personnel chemistry on the floor for the Heat? #freesupercoolbeas

I’m a huge Beasley fan, probably one of the biggest you’ll find, but defensively, he’s just not where Miami wants him to be yet. Give him credit – he’s trying, which is new for him. Miami’s defense requires a lot of rotating, however, due to the way they blitz P&R’s, and Beasley just flat out misses them sometimes. He’s still instant offense, like he always has been (and he’s even been way more efficient this year, which I don’t think even Pat Riley expected), but this team relies on it’s defense to get them easy offense, and if Beas is going to miss rotations, he probably won’t see a huge uptick in minutes any time soon.

4) This is kind of a rhetorical and stupid question, but do you ever see LeBron James getting out of his contract to become a free agent? What if, say, the Cleveland Cavaliers win the NBA Draft Lottery, don't re-sign Luol Deng, and the Miami Heat don't make it to the NBA Finals? I might be reviving something that should remain buried, but I'm a fan of zombies. Thoughts?

I don’t see any logical reason for LeBron to go back to Cleveland. He’s pretty clearly having the time of his life playing in Miami alongside Wade and Bosh, and this team, even as it ages, probably has a better shot at winning a title than Cleveland does, assuming veterans keep taking cuts to come to Miami (and I don’t see why they wouldn’t). However, there’s been so much speculation that LeBron is open to returning to his hometown that I find it hard to ignore. I don’t see it, personally, but I realize that it could happen.

5) What are three to five more things that Brooklyn Nets fans should know about the Heat heading into tonight's match-up and give me a final score!

Norris Cole’s flat top is the best in the league, and if you disagree, well, we aren’t friends anymore. If Udonis Haslem plays in this game, it is more than likely just to get on KG’s nerves, which I find hilarious. And I can’t think of a third thing, but I will just say this – I expect Miami to be energized tonight. I don’t think last night’s loss is going to sit well. Final score? Miami 105, Brooklyn 97.

DV's Prediction: Miami Heat 92, Brooklyn Nets 94... going against logic feels good!