The objective here is real simple: win. After getting a great win in Game Three, the Nets ran into a buzzsaw (more on that buzzsaw later) at home on Monday night and lost 102-96. They now trail the series 3-1 and will have to beat the Heat in Miami in order to bring this Conference Semifinals series back to Barclays Center on Friday night.
What's happening here? Let's check it out:
Offensive Rebounding percentage
Free throw rate
Effective Field Goal percentage
Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage
It happened in the Raptors series, and it happened again here. The Nets offense couldn't get anything going late and failed to get quality shots on offense. It was a given that Brooklyn wouldn't shoot as well from three point range as they did in Game Three, but they shot a way worse than average 22.7 percent on their three pointers. With the amount of experience this roster has, it was almost a given that they would always make the right play. But, that hasn't been the case and uncharacteristically poor decisions managed to sink their chances of stealing a win. If only Brook Lopez was healthy.
He was on the receiving end of a James barrage, but Paul Pierce was the best player for the Nets on Monday. Despite being in foul trouble, he scored 16 points and was the Nets only source of offense in the fourth quarter. He scored seven points and made key plays while his teammates couldn't get anything going. This could be the last game of the season, so look for Pierce to be extremely aggressive on offense. The Nets big men have not played well at all this series so look out for Andrei Kirilenko playing extended minutes at the five position and Pierce at the four. Pierce has crossed the forty minute barrier three times this season, and provided he's not in foul trouble, he'll do it here tonight.
He's not scoring or shooting all that well, but at least Deron Williams is passing the ball well. Williams had seven assists to only one turnover against the Heat defense, but just hasn't looked great in this series. He's coming off a very physical first round matchup against the Raptors, so that might be the cause of his mediocre play during the first four games of the series. It's frustrating to watch because coming into the series, his matchup against Mario Chalmers was the only spot where you could reasonably say that Brooklyn had a huge advantage at. However, through solid defense, bad shooting and a little bad luck, it's been closer than expected. We've talked all postseason about Williams needing to be more assertive on offense and attacking at every turn, but who knows what kind of performance he'll have at this point.
#BigshotBosh came through once again for the Champs. Chris Bosh has been working to add the three point shot to his arsenal over the last three years and it showed on Monday. Bosh's corner three pointer put the Heat up 97-94 and turned out to be the game winner. He helped make up for Dwyane Wade, who only scored one point and committed two awful turnovers in the fourth. If the Heat finish it off and advance to the Conference Finals, they're gonna need Wade to be more consistent. He's put up OK numbers but hasn't really had that dominant stretch yet these playoffs. Winning the title is an extremely challenging task, and that challenge becomes twice as hard if LeBron James has to carry the team by himself.
It helps to have solid contributors outside of the Big Three. In addition to his scoring, Ray Allen chipped in on the glass and led Miami in rebounding. Mario Chalmers had seven assists and has done a pretty fine job against Deron Williams. These two are so crucial for Miami because they help space the floor and are both unafraid to look for their shot in close and late games. That helps Miami immensely because defenses can't just zero in on James and will have to worry about them from deep. James Jones can provide some of that spacing, but he hasn't gotten the amount of minutes that his sharpshooting deserves.
Player to watch: LeBron James
Remember how we talked about how the Nets could try to slow James down? Yeah, about that. James had one of the best games of his career, scoring 49 points and blitzing the Nets from every possible angle. In Games Two and Three, Brooklyn had success against the Heat by keeping them out of the paint. That didn't work against LeBron as he scored 22 points in the paint and got to the free throw line 19 times. For much of the second half, it was LeBron against everybody in the borough as his teammates were largely nonexistent. Lest you believe James was amazing on offense, he had the assignment of guarding Joe Johnson in the fourth quarter despite having five fouls. Johnson has been having a spectacular 2014 playoffs and has been Brooklyn's most dependable late game scorer, but that didn't matter here. Johnson was shut out in the fourth and couldn't get through James in winning time. You can make the argument that James flopped, but those are the breaks sometimes.
These teams have played nine times, so nothing doesn't figure to change. The Nets will still throw every kind of look at James in the hopes of tripping him up. Pierce will get the first shot at him, and despite James' domination, won't be discouraged. Pierce still has enough size to harass James when he posts up. I would expect Jason Kidd to send a lot more double teams at James and let everybody else on the Heat beat him instead of James. It's worth a shot at this point.
From the Vault
Last time the Nets played the Heat in the postseason, they were down 3-1 heading into Game Five of the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals. See what Jason Kidd and friends did against Miami.
More reading: Hot Hot Hoops
TNT's got the game starting at seven PM. On the radio side of things, the Subway Series (an awful one I should add) has got this elimination game on WCBS 880 AM and their coverage should begin around 6:40 or so. Yankee games are obscenely long, so you'll probably be in bed by the time YES Network & WFAN gets to any Nets business once the Yankees and Mets wrap up.
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Miami Heat Game Notes - Miami Heat
- Nets-Heat Preview - Tim Reynolds - AP
- Pierce, Garnett didn’t come to Brooklyn to get ‘throne’ for a loop - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Kidd: We’re getting good looks, but shots aren’t falling - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- King James ready to deliver Nets’ death sentence - Steve Serby - New York Post
- NBA Playoffs: Brooklyn Nets know backs are against the wall vs. Heat - Mitch Abramsom - New York Daily News
- Prokhorov can't afford to think playing Miami Heat close is good enough - Mitch Abramson - New York Daily News
- Analysis: Brooklyn Nets must overcome mental hurdle - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Deron Williams, from hero to zero again - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- LeBron's Monster Performance (Video) - Toni Collins & Tom Haberstroh - ESPN Insider
- One last chance for Nets' Pierce, Garnett - Neil Best - Newsday
- Nets' plan for Game 5: Put forth a better fourth quarter - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Why There Is No Hope Left for the Nets - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Nets down to their last shot - John Torenli - Brooklyn Daily Eagle
- With corner three-pointer, Chris Bosh is Miami Heat’s ‘equalizer’ - Joseph Goodman - Miami Herald
Miami Heat: Heat's Chris Bosh deals with highs and lows of being a 3-pointer shooter - Shandel Richardson - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
- Heat-Nets preview: Brooklyn Nets at Miami Heat - Ira Winterman - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Miami Heat: LeBron James dominance over Nets begins in the brain - Ira Winterman - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
- LeBron James’ playoff scoring is impressive, until you compare it to Michael Jordan’s - USA Today