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Nets head home to face Miami

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Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Nets couldn’t solve Collin Sexton for a second straight game and two former Nets, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince, did a lot of smiling as Cleveland topped Brooklyn, 125-133, in Ohio. Unlike Wednesday’s game, the Cavaliers led most of the game. Like Wednesday’s game, the Nets big issue was defense, defense, defense.

So, the Nets flew back to Brooklyn where they’ll face the Heat Saturday and Monday. Both teams will be trying to avoid back-to-back losses.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV for the locals, NBA TV for the out-of-town set. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 8:00 p.m. ET. The game was moved back from 7:30 p.m. Joe Tsai tweeted that he’ll be watching.

Injuries

As of Saturday morning, the “Big Three” is ready to go, but Kyrie Irving and James Harden have played a lot of minutes in Cleveland. Kevin Durant sat out Friday night’s game but expect him back. Nicolas Claxton remains out with tendinopathy and Spencer Dinwiddie continues recovering and rehabbing after surgery for a partial tear of the ACL in his right knee. No word on the arrival of Norvel Pelle, the big man Adrian Wojnarowski said Friday the Nets will sign.

Charles Claxton, Nic’s father and a former Celtics player, provided an update on the second year big man...

Big guard?!?

The Heat are decimated. Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley are out due to health and safety protocols, Tyler Herro is out with neck spasms, Myers Leonard is out with a left shoulder sprain and Chris Silva is out with a left hip flexor.

The game

The Heat is hurting. After winning the Eastern Conference championship and falling to the Lakers in the Finals in the Orlando “bubble,” many expected Miami to repeat or at least be a serious contender, but they’ve been disappointing with injuries, illness making it difficult to sustain any kind of success. Friday night, they lost to the Raptors in Tampa by 20, 101-81.

The Heat have some of the same issues as the Nets. They give up a lot of three’s and with so little continuity, they give up a lot of turnovers. And as for rebounding, they’re worse than the Nets. Tom Dowd, the Nets in-house beat writer, laid out all the numbers in his game preview...

The Heat went into Friday night’s game third in the league in field goal percentage (48.6) and fifth in assists (26.6). They were also 27th in rebounds per game (42.6), but with a big difference in offensive rebounding (30th, 6.9) defensive rebounding (14th, 35.5). Miami ranked 28th in steals per game (6.2), 27th in blocks per game (3.8), and last in turnovers per game (18.3).

The Heat has also averaged a league-low 81.1 shot attempts per game this season. Doesn’t sound like an Erik Spoelstra-coached team, but these are odd times.

The Nets of course had their own problems, as shown by the trip to Cleveland. The “Big Three” have played together once, losing to Cleveland Wednesday. But to a man, they’ve said, it’s going to take some time. So don’t panic, says Kyrie...

As we noted in a tweet Friday, the Nets, at 9-8, have the same record the Heat’s “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did back in 2010. Of course, the Heat then went on 12-game winning streak. That team lost in the Finals to the Mavericks.

Player to watch:

With so many of the Heat’s shot-makers on the mend, a lot of the burden has fallen on Kendrick Nunn, the second year player from Oakland University.

The 6’2” Nunn had 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting to go along with four rebounds, five assists and three steals. That followed a 28-point game in Wednesday’s win game over Toronto/Tampa. Both times, he came off the bench.

It was the first time the undrafted Nunn put together consecutive 20-point games in more than a year. In his last three games, he’s shooting 58.1 percent. He’ll have to step up again Saturday if the Heat are going to have a chance. And with the Nets defensive woes in the backcourt, he just might.

From the Vault

Speaking of the Heat’s “Big Three,” remember this extravaganza when James, Wade and Bosh were introduced?

They did well, but not as well as they promised.

More reading: Hot Hot Hoops