Welcome to .500. Things went incredibly sideways in Orlando, but the Brooklyn Nets managed to survive against the Magic, winning 100-98 on Friday night. The Nets have won three straight and six out of their last seven. This is the last game of their three game road trip and the first night of a back-to-back. Brooklyn goes home to play the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.
Waiting for the Nets will be the Miami Heat. It's been a struggle for the reigning Eastern Conference Champions, and it continued with a 36 point loss in Houston last night. The Heat are currently in the eighth seed and have a one game lead over the Indiana Pacers. It doesn't get any easier for Miami after this. They get a few days off after this game before starting a season long five game road trip in Portland on Thursday night.
Where to follow the game
YES Network has you covered on television. It's Wildcard Weekend and WFAN will be airing all four playoff games this weekend. (The Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts are leading off, Cincy Jungle and Stampede Blue have you covered there. The main event of Sunday, Detroit at Dallas will start around 4:25. Pride of Detroit and Blogging the Boys have more on that game.)
Nothing here for the Nets.
For Miami, Justin Hamilton is questionable with a concussion.
What's happening here? Let's get into it:
Offensive Rebounding Rate
Free Throw Rate
Effective Field Goal Percentage
Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage
If there's one positive to getting blown out on the first leg of a back-to-back, it's that you get to rest your key players for the next night. Nobody for Miami played 28 or more minutes last night.
Turnovers aside, it was another banner game for Mason Plumlee. The big guy picked up 18 points and nine rebounds in only 26 minutes against Orlando on Friday. Having him in the lineup has done wonders for Brooklyn and although it seems likely the projected starting five at the beginning of the season will be reinstalled soon, he's made a great case to see an increase in minutes when it happens. Tonight, he'll be guarding Chris Bosh. Bosh presents a unique challenge to most centers, and Plumlee is no exception. Big Shot Bosh can stretch the floor with his jumper and is shooting 38.7 percent from three point range. He's also a good low post defender and that will be put to the test when Brook Lopez comes in. Slowly but surely, Lopez is working his way back into the form that once made him an All Star.
The small forward matchup between Luol Deng and Joe Johnson should be interesting. Although the Heat are being outscored when Deng is on the floor, it's even more drastic when he's on the bench. Without him, Miami is being outscored by 10 points per 100 possessions. Despite that, Deng has put together another solid season, shooting 50 percent from the field overall and 36 percent from deep. As for Johnson, he's been the lead option with Lopez and Deron Williams riding the bench, and that ought to continue here.
Miami is playing the back end of a back-to-back after being blown out by the Rockets in Houston, 115-79, their fourth straight loss, butting them three games behind the Nets in the East. The game was so one-sided so early that neither Wade nor Bosh played more than 27 minutes. They both finished with 15. As for the Nets, they had the day off, but practiced in Miami.
Player to watch: Dwyane Wade
It's been a while since Wade was the lead option for the Heat, and so far he's done well back in the role. Wade is averaging around 23 points and six assists a night while shooting 51 percent from the field. One of the things that has always benefited Wade has been his ability to get to the free throw line. He gets there six times a night but is only shooting 73 percent. Wade makes up for that with his ability to post up and cut to the basket. He missed the first game against the Nets and didn't have Bosh with him for the game he did play.
Sergey Karasev will face a tough challenge guarding Wade. Last time Karasev saw him, Wade scored 12 points in the first quarter on the way to a game high 28 in the Miami win. Karasev should be a bit more equipped to match up with Wade this time around. He's been playing better as of late and going against Wade will be a good test of that improvement. Bojan Bogdanovic has fallen out of the rotation so Karasev doesn't have to worry about losing his place for the foreseeable future.
From the Vault
In the 1997 Playoffs, the Heat went to five games (the maximum at the time) with the Orlando Magic in the first round and seven games with the New York Knicks in the second. No surprise that when they got to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, they went out in five games.
More reading: Hot Hot Hoops
- Brooklyn Nets: Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Miami Heat Game Notes - Miami Heat
- Nets-Heat Preview - Nicolino DeBenedetto - STATS LLC
- Nets finally buying into Lionel Hollins' team concept - Rod Boone - Newsday
- 2 Stars Don’t Start, and the Nets Thrive - Beckley Mason - New York Times
- Nets cashing in on their very expensive bench - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets rewind: A rare 3-point attempt from Kevin Garnett - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Nets' Deron Williams takes less Heat this time - Frank Isola - New York Daily News
- Hollins putting pieces together for Nets - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets seek payback in Miami - Sean Flattery - The Brooklyn Game
- Wade cautions against Heat putting all its hopes in 2016; Wallace fallout, perspective; UM adds recruit; Sun Life change looming - Barry Jackson - Miami Herald
- Suddenly, those Miami title runs seem long, long ago - Fran Blinebury - NBA.com