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Nets begin critical back-to-back in Miami vs. Heat

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Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

There are losses, and there are losses that cause your season to sink. On Thursday night, the Brooklyn Nets were in great position to come away with a win and get closer to fifth place in the standings. However, disaster struck and the Cleveland Cavaliers put the dagger in the Nets’ heart in the final seconds and Brooklyn took a devastating loss. The L was their fifth in a row and the team has fallen to seventh place in the eastern conference standings. No time to feel sorry for yourself. Gotta pick yourself up off the mat and get back to work.

Making it worse was the Last Two Minutes report released by the league on Friday that showed Donovan Mitchell crossed the plane of the foul line, which if called correctly would have give the Nets the ball...

The Miami Heat are looking to make another deep playoff run, and they’ve started to figure some things out. They took on the New York Knicks and put the vice grip on them as they came away with a big win on Wednesday night. They’ve been off for the past few days, and once this wraps up, they’ll be off for two more days before heading north to face the Toronto Raptors.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Tip after 8 PM.


No Ben Simmons (nerve impingement in his back) or Seth Curry (personal reasons.)

Cody Zeller and Nikola Jovic are out. Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin are questionable.

The game

Brooklyn took game one in January and game two in February. This is the last meeting between the teams in the regular season. If the Nets and Heat finish in a tie, the Nets hold the tiebreaker.

Quick detour. At the end of this month, Hot Hot Hoops will be leaving SB Nation as Vox Media continues gutting sites across the network. It sucks and I hope the writers over there land on their feet and keep providing awesome coverage. As I saw that news, I thought of what journalist Kiana Fitzgerald said on Twitter a few days ago

Solidarity forever.

Tell us who you are, Jimmy Butler!

True indeed! The stakes are getting higher, so this is the right time for Butler to turn his game up a notch. A funny thing has happened since we last saw JB. Over his past 15 games, Butler is shooting 52.6 percent from three point range. He doesn’t take many threes, but he makes the most out of his attempts when he takes them. He’s been a bad three point shooter throughout his career, and is shooting 34.7 percent from deep. That’s his best from deep since the 2018-2019 season. If Butler is respectable from out there, it opens up the rest of the floor for him and forces defenders to respect him from deep.

The matchup between Butler and Mikal Bridges promises to be an exciting one. Bridges had one of the best games of his career last time he saw Miami as he lit them up to the tune of 45 points on 17-24 shooing from the field. MB had a great bounce back game on Thursday with 32 points and six rebounds on 11-19 shooting from the field. One of the great things about Bridges is he’s able to consistently get to his spots on the floor and fire up a high quality shot. It’s an incredibly valuable skill and one that can always bail the Nets offense out when they get in a rut or become overly reliant on three point shooting.

This is the last time we’re gonna see Udonis Haslem, so salute to him for a great career. We’ll see him again when the Heat retire his number.

The Nets are still dead last in the NBA in rebounding, but they won the board battle their last two games. That’s a huge development for the team, and a big part of that has been the play of Day’Ron Sharpe. Sharpe has been a revelation over the past few games and is looking like a solid contributor and someone who can spell Nic Claxton. The Nets have been letting Clax go back to switching on guards more, and he’s been doing his thing. Sharpe and Claxton will do battle with Bam Adebayo.

Player to watch: Kyle Lowry

It’s been a pretty disappointing tenure in Miami for the Raptors legend. Injuries have been the name of the game over the past two seasons and Lowry is just getting back after dealing with left knee soreness. He’s been coming off the bench and the hope is he can lead the second unit as he regains his footing. A great playoff run would help erase the messiness from Lowry’s tenure on the team and give them plenty to cheer for when the stakes get higher.

Something I’ve noticed with the Nets is when they drive to the basket and are at the rim, they often try to make the extra pass instead of trying to finish in traffic. Being unselfish is a great thing, but sometimes I think the better play is to go for the layup. For example...

Good! Spencer Dinwiddie is at his best when he’s attacking the basket and looking to finish over defenders in the paint. Since joining the Nets, Dinwiddie has only taken 3.6 shots per game inside the restricted area, making only 60.6 percent of them. Decision making has been a bug-a-boo for the Nets, and if Dinwiddie is able to help keep things moving well, the Nets have a great chance to snap the losing streak.

Also, I saw this snippet of an interview Dinwiddie did with Taylor Rooks, and it really spoke to me:

Tell your folks you love em every chance you get.

From the Vault

Miami is basketball central as the men and women's basketball teams are in the Elite Eight. 20 years ago, a future Miami legend became a superstar in the NCAA Tournament:

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