The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Miami Heat 4-0 in their four regular season matchups -- 6-0 if you count the two preseason games! Now, they face the Heat in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, which starts on Tuesday, May 6. A heavy narrative, heading into Game 1, will read two ways: First, the Nets have gone 4-0 against the Heat in the regular season, which was the first time a LeBron James-led team was swept in the regular season since he joined the league, and, second, the Nets supposed late-season "tank" in order to "avoid the Bulls and Pacers in the first two rounds" will be front and center. "This is what you wanted, so..." You know how it goes.
As the series approaches, though, you almost have to throw out what happened in the regular season. With each game being a coin flip, there was no true dominant performance on either end, and as we all know, the playoffs are a completely different beast altogether. The Nets can enter the series with some confidence, sure, but they can't hang their hat on the 4-0 regular season sweep. Oh, and don't expect them to advocate that narrative, either.
Quickly, here's how the Nets fared against the Heat in the regular season:
November 1, 2013: Nets 101, Heat 100 (@Barclays) -- The Heat went on a late 8-0 run in toward the end of the 4th quarter, but the Nets managed to hang on. Brook Lopez went for 13 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes. Andrei Kirilenko played 12 minutes.
January 10, 2014: Nets, 104, Heat 95 (2OT) (@Barclays) -- Joe Johnson scored 32 points, as the game went to double overtime, before the Nets were really able to pull away. Again, the Nets carried a lead into the fourth quarter, but allowed for the Heat to make a big comeback, forcing overtime (and eventually double OT). Deron Williams and Dwyane Wade did not play in this game.
March 12, 2014: Nets 95, Heat 94 (AA Arena) -- Paul Pierce scored 29 points, and the Nets held LeBron James to 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Chris Bosh threw the ball away at the end of the game, as they had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth. The Nets stole the ball and ran out the clock. Deron Williams was awful, scoring just six points. Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko did not play for the Nets.
April 8, 2014: Nets 88, Heat 87 (AA Arena) -- This was the Mason Plumlee Block Game. LeBron James had the ball in the paint with three seconds to go, the Nets up by one point. He went up for what seemed to be an inevitable game-ending dunk, until rookie Mason Plumlee contested and blocked him at the rim. Nets win. Deron Williams was bad, again, with eight points and six assists. Joe Johnson went for 19 points, while Marcus Thornton scored 16 off the bench.
So, there you have it. Four wins for the Nets over the Heat, with three of them coming by one point and the fourth coming in double overtime. Again, a coin flip.
After the Nets' 104-103 Game 7 victory over the Raptors on Sunday, the team spoke as much about how even the series was and how you can essentially throw the regular season results out the window.
Pierce on #Nets #Heat: "It's not on a rivalry yet. You can't really create rivalries in the regular season. They're the favorite."— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) May 4, 2014
Joe on the #Heat: "We know we can beat them, but it's going to be a lot different from the regular season." #Nets— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) May 4, 2014
Kidd on success vs Heat in regular season, "Zero-zero (now)"— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) May 4, 2014
Meanwhile, at practice on Sunday, the Heat weren't ready to hand the series over to the Nets based on the regular season, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
LeBron James said that the Heat are more prepared, now, given the time off during the playoffs, but also because they've seen the Nets four times already. He said, "What you do in the regular season doesn't matter in the postseason." And he's right, especially when you try to speculate results.
James added,. "You have more time to prepare" in the postseason. He also has been troubled by a thigh injury that he's been able to rehab during the last week. He says he's "close to 100 percent" as a result.
But he did admit the Heat didn't solve the Nets in the regular season (or preseason, where they beat the Nets twice as well.)
LeBron on why Heat have struggled vs. Nets: "If we had the answer we would have won. They are a very good team and exploit mismatches."— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) March 13, 2014
Ray Allen added, according to Zillgitt:
"I don't think we played our best basketball again them," Heat guard Ray Allen said. "When I think about the games, we had inconsistent lineups. But guys that were in there played well, but we just didn't play well enough, and defensively weren't good. So hats off to them because they beat us four times. But we didn't particularly like how we played in those games."
Dwyane Wade went on to talk about the Heat and how they're healthier now than they were at times in the regular season when they played the Nets.
The takeaway? The series starts on Tuesday, it did not start on October 30, 2013. The Nets have just as good of a shot as any team in the Eastern Conference to beat the Heat. Not to the tune of a 4-0 sweep, necessarily, but they are playing tough basketball right now, beat a very good Toronto Raptors team in a 7-game series, and can, at the very least, head into the Heat series with confidence -- heck, Deron Williams didn't play in one of the Heat games and was awful in two of the others. That counts for something, for sure.
- LeBron James' Heat vs. revamped Nets means bad blood - Jeff Zillgitt - USA Today
- Pierce, KG brace for LeBron — again - Fred Kerber - New York Post
- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett give Nets shot to take down LeBron James and Heat - Mitch Lawrence - New York Daily News
- 4 Reasons Why Brooklyn Nets Have Shot To Beat Heat - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN
- Starting Five: Bring it, LeBron! - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- 2014 NBA playoffs -- LeBron James of Miami Heat 'close to 100 percent' with hurt thigh - ESPN Heat Index
- Nets-Heat Series Preview (Video) - Vince Cellini, Steve Smith & Brent Barry - NBA.com
- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce Get Past Raptors, Get Another Shot at the Heat - Ethan Skolnick - Bleacher Report
- Miami Heat face Brooklyn Nets in second round of NBA playoffs - Ira Winderman - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
- 2014 NBA playoffs preview: Miami Heat vs. Brooklyn Nets - Adi Joseph - USA Today
- Regular-season sweep by next playoff opponent, Brooklyn Nets, doesn’t faze Miami Heat - Barry Jackson - Miami Herald