Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Heat-Nets Second Round Matchup

I remember when someone on the Nets said that there wasn't anything that LeBron James could do that Andray Blatche couldn't do.

I hope they remember saying that because LeBron is about to obliterate them in 5 games or less. Yes, people will talk about how the Nets are the only team in the Big Three era to sweep the Heat in a season series. Yet, the last win was totally ridiculous (terrible call with Wade's foot well in bounds for the three AND Plumlee's foul at the end of the game when LeBron would have won it with his free throws). The other games simply weren't priorities for the Heat, but they were the entire point of the season for a team like the Nets. Their aging veterans LIVE to be thorns in the side of the Heat, and wouldn't miss any chance to take their shot. The problem is: they are too old, too frail, and not good enough to take those shots for a sustained 7-game series against Miami. This is especially the case when the Heat's sole focus will be (and probably already has been) on the Nets for the past two weeks. In the coaching matchup of Erik Spoelstra against Jason "spilled my drink" Kidd, I think I know who I would take if I were a betting man. The Nets may be deep, but the Heat are simply better and more experienced as a team.

Although the Nets match up very well with the Heat on paper, their star player performances have come from Joe Johnson and timely play from Paul Pierce. Paul "slow ball" Pierce isn't going to be much of a challenge for LeBron, although he and Garnett will bring their 2009 A game in at least some moments of the series. Joe Johnson is a tough matchup for Wade because of his length, but Wade is more than up for the challenge. The Heat can spell Wade with some of their other lengthy and capable wing defenders like Shane Battier in order to keep Dwyane fresh on the offensive end. Plus, Wade has plenty of experiences sweeping Johnson and his Hawks in the past several years in JJ's pre-Brooklyn days. Let's just hope he doesn't have to wear his stupid nickname jersey during the Playoffs.

When this Nets team was put together, it was put together to take advantage of Miami's weaknesses at the Point Guard and Center spots. Now, Brook Lopez is out and they can't really take advantage of the Heat with height. They have some good bigs, but not skilled offensive players or great defensive stoppers outside of Kevin Garnett. Bosh will be able to at least neutralize Garnett for the 20 minutes per game he plays in the series. The biggest contribution Pierce and Garnett will have is their veteran experience, their lack of trepidation in the spotlight, and their intense hatred (and relative success) against Lebron and Wade.

However, just like Pierce and Garnett get up for games against the Heat, the Heat know that those guys thrive on beating the Heat and will be equally up for the challenge of dispatching them in embarrassing fashion (either a sweep, or a 4-1 series win).

Are the Nets the biggest challenge in the East for the Heat? "Get out of here..." says LeBron. Actually, they might be, but LeBron didn't know that Hibbert and the Pacers would have one of the most historic Playoff collapses in history when he said that. Hibbert might actually be worse than Kwame Brown.

Note: Although Miami would have certainly swept the Raptors, I'm happy they will have a better tune-up round by playing Brooklyn. I always love to see Pierce and Garnett lose, especially if I might have the chance to see it in person while I'm in New York.