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Nets wrap up Black History Month in Miami

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Cleveland Cavaliers v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Yikes yikes yikes. The Brooklyn Nets went into Friday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks hoping to snap out of the mini-funk they've been in this week. That didn't happen as the Hawks smoked the Nets. It was Brooklyn's third consecutive loss. Simply put, games like that can not happen.

The opponent tonight will be the Miami Heat. By and large, it’s been a pretty great year for Erik Spoelstra’s guys, but things have been going sideways since the All Star break. They snapped their three game losing streak with a quality win against the Dallas Mavericks last night. The W snapped their three game losing streak.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are out.

Meyers Leonard and Tyler Herro are likely to miss this contest.

The game

Miami won game one in December and Brooklyn won game two in January. This is the last meeting between the two clubs this season.

This is the third game in four nights for Brooklyn, and coming off such a dreadful loss, they're going to need to summon up every bit of energy they have to pull this off. The difficulty will ratchet up to 20 from here on out.

The Heat are looking pretty different these days. At the deadline, they picked up Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, and James Johnson. More on Iggy in a bit.

This is arguably the best Heat team since the 2013-2014 squad that lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals, and now that they have a legit chance at homecourt advantage in the first round, expectations have shifted. Hami Rath of Hot Hot Hoops explains:

The Heat have undeniably surprised everyone and surpassed all preconceived expectations this season, but they are no longer a secret. The rest of the league are now aware of what Miami is all about and what they bring to the table, and the Heat will certainly use the second half of the season to show that they are more than just a surprising team that proved doubters wrong. There is no doubt that watching Miami’s ascension and All-Star takeover has been objectively amusing to any NBA fan, but the time for fun and games is now over with the second half underway.

Spo is one of the best coaches in the league, so he'll have his guys ready to roll once the playoffs start in April.

We'll get to see one of the best big men in the league tonight. Bam Adebayo has been marvelous this year and was rewarded with his first trip to the All Star Game. Bam is a terror on the boards, an elite rim protector, and a budding offensive star. He's shaping up to be a Heat lifer and someone that will carry the torch for the franchise going forward.

It's hard for the Nets to win if Jarrett Allen doesn't play well. He only played 21 minutes last night so he should have enough energy to deal with Bam. Miami is the second best rebounding team in the NBA this year, so the Nets trio of big guys will each have to excel when they're on the court.

Player to watch: Andre Iguodala

Even for a player as good as Iguodala, it's hard to jump back into the middle of a playoff race after being off since last summer. He was traded to Memphis from Golden State, but he declined to suit up for them so he had been sitting at home until the team sent him off to Miami. He's here for potential matchups with guys like Jayson Tatum and Ben Simmons, so his main objective is to make it through March and early April in tip top shape.

When you're expected to be the team's second best player, you have to do more. So for Caris Levert, he will need to play at an All Star level every night if the Nets want to hang on to the eighth seed. The road doesn't get any easier from here, but he has tons of talent and will have all the opportunities he needs to get it going.

Video to watch: Garrett Temple

ICYMI, here’s Michael Grady’s great Black History Month feature on Garrett Temple’s family.

From the Vault

Today's a Leap Day, which is always fun. It's also Ja Rule's birthday, so that's fun, too.

More reading: Hot Hot Hoops