Mar 28, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) passes the ball past Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 110-99. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
For their third dress rehearsal, the Brooklyn Nets are taking their talents to South Beach to face off against a Dwyane Wade-less Heat team. The Nets have had almost no success against Miami in recent years, and over the last eight games, Brooklyn sits at a paltry 1-7.
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Not only is Wade a member of the Chicago Bulls now, but it has been three seasons since the Nets have been able to compete with Miami. Both rosters look infinitely different. Back in 2013-14, the Nets were still holding onto Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Joe Johnson, while the Heat had their Big Three intact with Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. Brooklyn had Miami’s number during that regular season, sweeping the season series before losing in five games in the second round of the playoffs.
Since then, the Nets have cut ties with all of those guys. The Timberwolves traded for KG before retiring; Pierce went to the Wizards before landing with the Clippers; Johnson and Williams were waived before signing with the Heat and Mavericks, respectively.
The Big Three has come apart in recent years, starting with James returning to the Cavaliers to win a title, and ending with the Heat and Bosh cutting ties because of his ongoing health concerns. In the middle was the departure of Wade, who left to return to his hometown of Chicago.
The rebuild is in full effect in Brooklyn, but Miami is stuck in the middle. It’s unlikely to see them match their 48 wins from last season with a diminished roster, and Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic are going to have to have career seasons for that success to be spurred. The surrounding pieces, like Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Udonis Haslem, and Dion Waiters, are going to need to reach new levels also to keep Miami relevant in a still competitive conference.
Mar 28, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) is pressured by Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 110-99. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Nets’ Keys To Victory
Ball Movement: This was a key to beating the Knicks, and it’ll be a key to beating the Heat. Against New York, however, the ball movement was nothing like against Detroit. By night’s end, Brooklyn notched just 13 assists on 29 field goals made. Jeremy Lin didn’t play, so the lack of leadership from the point guard spot attributed to that. Moving the ball with quickness and efficiency is key against the Heat because their defense has been phenomenal the last few seasons, and you won’t beat them going one-on-one every possession.
Attack The Basket: The Nets were relentless in attacking the cup against the Knicks and forced New York into committing 30 fouls, which led to 42 free throw attempts and resulted in 31 points. It would be wrong not to credit the Knicks’ defensive effort Saturday night since they held Brooklyn to 39 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent from three. Being aggressive is still necessary when taking on a team with a great shot blockers because reluctance to take shots from inside the paint limits the offense and gives the advantage to the defense.
Crash The Defensive Glass: Not only is Whiteside a force on defense, but he can also dominate the offensive boards if given a chance. The Minnesota Timberwolves did an excellent job of keeping him off the backboards and limited him to one offensive rebound. If Brooklyn makes him their primary focus and boxes out consistently, they won’t get manhandled on the glass because the rest of the Heat roster isn’t as imposing as Whiteside.
Players To Watch
Nets: Sean Kilpatrick (G) – Last Game: 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting in 16 minutes vs. NYK
Heat: Hassan Whiteside (C) – Last Game: 17 points, 12 boards, three blocks in 27 minutes vs. MIN