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Nets fly south to meet the Heat in Miami

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Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Nets sit at ninth in the East with a 7-10 record heading into this week where they’ll face the Heat, Mavericks, Timberwolves, and 76ers. The post-Caris LeVert injury Nets have been promising, at least compared to our worst fears. The back-to-back resulted in a win vs. the Wizards and a tough loss to the Clippers. The Nets are proving they can hang without their best player. At least for now. This is going to be a big week, and the Heat are up first. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN have this one at 7:30. Also it’s an away game, didn’t mention that before.

Injuries

Caris LeVert (foot) and Treveon Graham (hamstring) are still out. Dzanan Musa has been assigned to Long Island, which also plays Tuesday vs. the Westchester Knicks.

Dion Waiters (ankle) and Goran Dragic (knee) are both hurt. Dwyane Wade will return Tuesday to play his first game since the birth of his daughter 11 days ago. Tyler Johnson (hamstring) is a late scratch.

The Game

Prior to the most recent matchup between these two franchises (which the Nets lost) I remarked that the Heat have the kind of team the Nets seem to struggle with the most: the ones just like them. Full of guys who can flat out ball, well-coached, and no superstar to focus in on, the Heat are something of a mirror of the Nets with different guys at more advanced stages of their careers. They’re not necessarily better, and I wouldn’t switch rosters with them in a million years, but they’re a tough opponent, ranking 15th in the league in Defensive Rating to the Nets 24th.

On offense though, the Nets sit at 10th(!), while Miami can be found down at 19th. Jarrett Allen needs to get some real credit by the way. He’s been absolutely fantastic this season and is proving himself vital to the the Nets success, not only in the future, but right now. Also, Allen didn’t play in the Nets loss to the Heat when Hassan Whiteside ran wild.

Allen’s tied for the best Defensive Rating on the team at 108 with the other two being Ed Davis and Dzanan Musa, who play significantly less minutes. His Offensive Rating is 128, second only to Ed Davis’s unreal 130. Also shouts to Ed Davis. I’ll talk about him in a moment. But Allen is 20 and still filling out his body. He is, for example, younger than Rodions Kurucs!

The fact that he’s already such an impact player bodes well going forward for the young center. Also did you guys see that thing where he took kids shopping for Thanksgiving? Adorable. Love the Fro.

Anyway, Ed Davis is incredible. I recently tried explaining to my friend Drew about Davis’ impact on a basketball game recently and I gave up after a minute of waxing poetic with “You just gotta watch him. He impacts every single play.” Signing him for just over $4 million was an absolute steal, I just wish it was a 10-year contract instead of one. Dude should be a Net for life. Also expect him to be a major key to this game with Hassan Whiteside manning center for the Heat.

The biggest issue for the Heat is that they have NO pure point guard with Dragic out. Wade will do however. Better than Wayne Ellington, who would have been pressed into service.

Player To Watch

The Heat’s 25-year-old guard Josh Richardson is the best player on this Miami team, progressing to the point of a breakout season - Miami’s version of Caris LeVert, if you will. He’s putting up 20.4 points per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from three. He’s not great on defense, and the Nets should look to attack him to force some fouls early. Or late. Really whenever, as long is it gets done and D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie can get some free shots at the line. Also, if the Nets can get him into foul trouble, he’ll hopefully spend a little less time on the court, and that’s a positive. The dude can flat out score.

From The Vault

Too bad Wade is playing. He has owned the Nets for years. O.W.N.E.D. Here’s a high (?) light reel.

Enjoy. Or Whatever...

For a different perspective, head on over to Hot Hot Hoops, our sister site on SB Nation.