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Heat go for season sweep of Nets

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"I'd rather be with you until that day we'll fly away."
"I'd rather be with you until that day we'll fly away."
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hey man I don't know what to tell you.

The Brooklyn Nets finished up their five game homestand and got washed by the New Orleans Pelicans 111-91. It was their fourth straight loss (all at home it must be noted) and they're now in eleventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. They're three games behind the Charlotte Hornets and sliding down the standings fast. This is the first night of a four game road trip for Brooklyn. After this, they have two days off before playing the Sixers on Saturday night.

Waiting for Brooklyn will be the four time defending Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat. Obviously the team is worse off these days as compared to the four year LeBron James run, but they're still in position for a playoff spot. They lost on Monday night to the Celtics and are ninth in the standings. Even with the loss, they're only one half game behind the Hornets and 2.5 games ahead of Boston.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV and WFAN 101.9 FM on the radio. Tip off is set for after 7:30.

Injuries

Markel Brown rolled his ankle on Tuesday but is with the team in Miami and hopes to play. Sergey Karasev sprained his knee and won't play. Alan Anderson hurt his tailbone and his status is unknown as of this writing.

Chris Bosh will miss the remainder of the season after blood clots were discovered in his lungs. It's the same thing that caused Mirza Teletovic to miss the rest of the season, and I hope both players come back strong next season.

The game

What's going on here? Since we're in the asking business:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Miami

Record

25-37 28-35

Pace

94.53 92.75

Offensive Efficiency

100.4 101.9

Defensive Efficiency

104.7 103.8

Turnover Rate

14.9 15.9

Assist Rate

16.1 16.5

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.7 22.8

Rebounding Rate

48.8 48.9

Free Throw Rate

26.5 31.8

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.7 50.2

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.2 50.7

The Heat won the first meeting in November, the second one in December and the most recent contest in January.

Hassan Whiteside has been fantastic for the Heat, but won't be playing tonight. He got ejected on Monday for delivering a forearm shiver to Kelly Olynyk while his back was turned and was served with a one game suspension. Whiteside's tomfoolery didn't sit well with Dwyane Wade, who said:

He's had enough veteran advice. There comes a time when you have to do it yourself. There's only so many words people can continue to say to you. You gotta do it. Not for you, you gotta do it for the other guys in here that yiou see sacrificing. That you see out there playing hurt and all the things that are going on. You're part of a team. You're part of an organization. We all have our moments, selfish moments. But you can't continue to keep having them, because you gotta be reliable and you gotta be able to be counted on. And right now, if he continues to act that way then he's not reliable.

Woo boy. On a happier note, Wade has been pretty good in his return as leading man. Before the year started, I spoke with Matt Pineda of Hot Hot Hoops. Here's what he told me about Wade:

Dwyane Wade isn't washed up. I think a lot of people see the time he has missed and his numbers declining as a way to take a stab at the guy. But after watching every game last year, I can tell you...he's still Dwyane Wade. He took a back seat to LeBron the past few years and he is getting older, but he still has it. I think he will show people this year that he is still an elite player.

Wade is averaging 21 points and five assists in 31 minutes a game. He's a better jump shooter than he's given credit for, but he's at his best when he's cutting to the basket. He's attempted a career low amount of shots at the rim, and we can attribute that to age and not having Bron to create room on the floor. Assuming Brown and Anderson are out, it'll be up to Bojan Bogdanovic to stick with Wade.

Playing at the power forward position hasn't helped Joe Johnson much recently. More importantly, he's been dealing with knee and ankle injuries since the middle of December. He'll be matched up with Luol Deng. LD has been a decent replacement for Bron and opponents are only shooting 42.9 percent when he is guarding them. Johnson is a bit bigger, but Deng's a good post defender and his length should mitigate that disadvantage if Johnson ventures to the inside.

Not having to deal with Whiteside should do wonders for Brook Lopez. Like a lot of Nets, he's been struggling recently. His numbers were decent last night, but he was nonexistent in the second half. If there's any positive of late, it's that the Nets have been getting Lopez a lot of shots near the rim. When he's playing well, Brook can be a stabilizing force for Brooklyn's offense. He should lead the team in shot attempts in this game.

Henry Walker (formerly Bill) is back in the league, and he's a testament to the importance of the D-League.

Player to watch: Goran Dragic

Dragic got tired of sharing point guard duties with Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas in Phoenix, so he forced his way to the Heat. He's missed the last two games with a back injury, but hopes to be back tonight. His offensive stats with the Heat are pretty, but he's been great for their defense. Since his acquisition at the deadline, the team has only allowed 100 points per 100 possessions, a four point improvement from the first half. Having a player that is good on both ends of the court makes Erik Spoelstra's job a lot easier and if the Heat can make the playoffs as close to full health as possible, they might give Atlanta or Cleveland a competitive first round series.

Deron Williams will be in charge of keeping Dragic in check. Williams has been terrible lately and all of the goodwill he earned coming out of the break has evaporated. The pairing of him and Jarrett Jack has been disastrous, but with the injury situation on the perimeter, don't be surprised if Lionel Hollins goes back to it. I know you guys are huge fans of that.

Assuming Dragic is out, Mario Chalmers will slide into the starting lineup.

From the Vault

The Heat and Pacers are battling for playoff positioning once again. Let's head on back to 2012 when the stakes were much higher.

More reading: Hot Hot Hoops