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Nets close out regular season vs. Heat with sixth seed on the line

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

PLAYOFFS!!! The Nets did it, they really did it. After all the dark speculation at the beginning of the season, the despair of the winter losing streak, and all that worrying as the bottom of the East crept closer and closer, Brooklyn was able to get through it all and finish as a playoff team.

Amazing. Truly amazing.

They even have a chance to finish out the season with a winning record and the sixth seed, which is like, a real seed. Not one of the bottom two or anything. Six is legit. A win over Miami and they will be playing the 76ers, the third seed, in the first round.

The Miami Heat, whose playoff hopes ended Tuesday night, will be traveling to New York on the back end of a back-to-back. More significantly, the Heat are coming off an emotional night in Miami, the organization’s final tribute to Dwyane Wade. And yes, DWade is expected to play Wednesday.

Where to Follow the Game

MY9 and New York’s Country 94.7 at 8pm, ET.

Injuries

Allen Crabbe (knee) is out. So is DeMarre Carroll (wrist). Joe Harris (foot soreness) is questionable. Dzanan Musa remains on assignment with Long Island, which missed an opportunity Tuesday to win it all in the G League Finals.

Josh Richardson (hip) is out. Erik Spoelstra says he expects to play Wade and Udonis Haslem who is also ending his Heat career Wednesday night.

The Game

The Heat lost their best player with just games left in a season when they were struggling to make one of the final few playoff spots. Just really tough. As a result, Miami had lost four straight before blowing out the 76ers Tuesday night, essentially squashing their playoff hopes and squandering the final stretch of DWade’s career. Miami doesn’t have a ton of other scoring options outside of Richardson and Wade. They’re built on a sort of bizarro egalitarian principle of having everybody be the same type of player and score between 10 and 15 points per game. They also recently released Rodney McGruder (a favorite of mine after discovering his existence this season) for cap reasons. He could score a little bit.

The Nets will have to figure out something of a playoff rotation, maybe not in this game, but sometime before the playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see who gets those bench spots outside of Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. Will we see Jared Dudley? Ed Davis? Treveon Graham? I’m sure a lot of the decisions will come down to matchups and trust. In this one though, we’ll probably see all of them get some limited minutes even if there’s a playoff seed on the line. I doubt anyone is going to play 32+ minutes, especially after those back-to-back wins the Nets pulled off over the weekend.

Brooklyn was firing on all cylinders over the weekend, especially against Indiana, and that is exactly what you want to see heading into the playoffs. This game should serve as one last tuneup before the real challenge starts. Just make it out with no bumps or bruises and if Kenny wants to give some of the deeper bench guys some run, then go for it. Definitely would not mind a little Shabazz Napier action in this one.

In the two games over the weekend, Caris LeVert averaged 21 points, four assists, and a steal while shooting 57% from the field and 50% from three. He looked good, and it isn’t hard to envision a game where he makes a significant impact off the bench and swings the momentum in the Nets favor. Him combined with Dinwiddie make for what could be the best 6th and 7th men off the bench in the league, up there with Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, who might finish first and second in 6th Man of the Year voting.

Miami will be interesting to observe over the next couple of seasons. Historically, they’ve been a pretty popular destination for players, but with their current cap situation they don’t figure to be major players anytime soon unless they get really creative. This is a team that’ll be paying Hassan Whiteside $27 million next season and Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk a combined $24 million in 2020-21. Yikes. Not a ton of foresight from Pat Riley and Co. You’d think that Miami would be a pretty attractive location for at least some of the big names this summer.

Rest Watch

Russell, who did miss only one game this season due to rest right before New Year’s Eve, insists that whatever the game plan is for the final regular season affair on Wednesday, he will be part of it.

Asked what Kenny Atkinson has told him regarding rest, DLo appeared befuddled at the thought.

“Sh*t, I’m trying to win,” he said, almost smiling, with confidence.

“What you mean? It makes sense if guys are banged up to rest. But I’m playing,” he insisted, with a smile.

Well, that answers that.

Player to Watch

It’s Dwyane Wade. Who else? We get to watch a legend play in his final game, and it’s truly disappointing he couldn’t have gone out on a better team. He’s played surprisingly well this season after looking pretty washed in Cleveland. Also, wild he played in Chicago. Does anyone really remember that happening? It was him, Jimmy Butler, Rondo, and Taj Gibson. I cannot believe that happened for a whole season.

Anyway, Wade is a legend, a three-time champion, an MVP, a Finals MVP, a Miami legend, and so much more. He’ll never get the credit or recognition that Kobe does, but for a while there they were a lot closer in talent than plenty of basketball fans would probably be willing to admit. Wade is going to go down as one of the best two-guards in NBA history, and it’ll be special watching him play on an NBA court one last time. Enjoy retirement Dwyane.

A Note

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for reading and following both NetsDaily and my game previews this season. It’s been a great time, and getting to both keep you all up to date and also publicize my many opinions on the Nets and basketball in general has been so much fun. So thank you for reading and supporting, I mean it.

From The Vault

Get pumped for the playoffs!

As always, enjoy.

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