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Nets look to make it two straight vs. Heat

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Detroit Pistons v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Not lost in Cleveland anymore. The Brooklyn Nets came back to town after two frustrating losses against the Cavaliers and hosted the Miami Heat on Saturday night. Brooklyn almost tricked the game off, but came through late and held on for the victory. After this, they’re hitting the road for a quick three game road trip.

Same opponent as last time. When the Miami Heat get out of here, they’ll head home to begin a six game homestand, starting with the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. Read about the game from the perspective of our friends at Hot Hot Hoops.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Party starts after 7:30.

Injuries

Spencer Dinwiddie and Nicolas Claxton are out. Everyone else, including the “Big Three” are available.

Jimmy Butler, Avery Bradley, Tyler Herro, Chris Silva and Meyers Leonard are not with the team. Moe Harkless had to leave Saturday’s game early after injuring his quad. No word on his availability Monday.

The game

When the Heat get back home this week, it looks like they’ll have some company. On Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers, fans will be allowed back into the arena... provided they get past the coronavirus sniffing dogs. As the NBA tries to push through the season to ensure they keep the money rolling in, they’ll be closing monitoring the success of this program and determine if anything similar can be replicated in other arenas across the United States.

Kyrie Irving is so good at closing the Nets should play “Enter Sandman” every time he checks in during the fourth quarter. Irving held it down for Brooklyn on Saturday night, scoring a team high 18 points in the 4th. When Irving is on his game, he is one of the craftiest, most unique scorers that we have in basketball. Without Bradley, Kendrick Nunn has gotten more playing time in recent games and has played capable ball. Irving was able to work him on Saturday in the fourth

The shot wasn’t there, but James Harden’s playmaking skills will do wonders for the second unit. There were a few moments where Reggie Perry looked completely out of sorts, but he plays with a level of spunk that the team could use more often. For a team short on big people like Brooklyn is, you have to give Perry as many opportunities to get into a rhythm, take his lumps, and get valuable experience. It never hurts to keep the young guys involved.

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about Brooklyn’s turnover issues, but Erik Spoelstra’s guys are having even more difficulty holding on to the ball. Miami has the worst turnover rate in the NBA this season, and for a team that’s already shorthanded, wasting possessions is the absolute LAST thing you need to do. Matt Pineda of Hot, Hot Hoops has a bit more:

It’s been a combination of sloppy play, overpassing, and poor decision-making. But the Heat have to clean that up to be a superior team. They are obviously capable, but they cannot continue this trend.

Brooklyn looked more engaged on defense (especially compared to Cleveland) on Saturday, but only forced eight Miami turnovers all game. If they can do a better job there, they can get out in transition and bury them early. From there, it’s just a matter of maintaining that same level of energy all 48 minutes.

Player to watch: Bam Adebayo

If he plays like that every night, they’ll have to build a statue of him. Adebayo was outstanding on Saturday night as he scored a career high 41 points on a dazzling array of face up jumpers, three pointers, etc. As the Heat try to get healthy and put themselves in position to go on another deep playoff run, Adebayo’s gotten better every season and is firmly entrenched as the team’s franchise player going forward. He can operate an offense, has good touch on his jumpers, plays hard every night, and anchors an elite defense when everyone is healthy. I always think about this Spoelstra quote from a 2020 Zach Lowe story when I think about Adebayo:

“The only way to get better is experience. I want him to be a different player six weeks from now, three months from now. And then I’ll move the goal posts again.”

How will the Nets adjust? As the game rolled deep into the fourth, Jeff Green was at center for the Nets and worked hard in trying to slow Bam down. It didn’t work of course, but Green as the smallball center has been good all things considered. He wound up fouling out, which led to Kevin Durant taking a brief spell at the five late. We’ve wondered about KD playing center, and I feel that’s a strategy that will be broken out in the playoffs as needed. In the interim, Green and Jordan will take on the responsibility of reining Adebayo in tonight.

From the Vault

We’re feeling a bit sad after we lost Hank Aaron and Larry King over the weekend, but we’re gonna celebrate them and their lasting legacies. First up, we’re partying like it’s 1999 as we’re taking a trip to 1999 to watch Larry interview Prince (RIP).

And who better to memorialize Hammerin’ Hank than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

More reading: Hot Hot Hoops