The Brooklyn Nets swept the regular-season series against the Miami Heat, and now the two teams meet in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The All U Can Heat writers weigh in on four of the key points in this series.
1. Will the Heat’s 0-4 record against the Nets in the regular season have a major impact on this series?
Wes Goldberg: Not really. The Heat didn’t have Dwyane Wade for two of those games and had already clinched the second seed in the last meeting. Miami is rested and ready to kick it up a notch now that the games count. The Nets will have confidence, but led by Paul Pierce and KG, they would have had that anyway.
Kristopher Keaton: The 0-4 regular season record doesn’t really mean much. For one, the Heat were without Dwyane Wade for a couple of the those games. Secondly, as evidenced by 2011 (Chicago and Boston), what happens in the regular season doesn’t always translate to the postseason.
David Ramil: Not really. The four wins don’t mean anything on their own merit but they did provide the Nets, theoretically, with a template to beat Miami. However, this should be a better, playoffs-version of Miami.
Blaine Hunkins: No, in the past, we’ve seen the Bulls and the Celtics humiliate the Heat in the regular season, but that doesn’t seem to phase the Heat in the playoffs. It almost seems as if the Heat don’t give it their all in the regular season because they know they’ll have to use all of their energy in the playoffs.
2. The Heat have the best player, but do they have the better supporting cast?
Goldberg: Yes. I’ll still take Wade and Chris Bosh along with LeBron James over Pierce, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams. Shaun Livingston, KG and AK47 could present matchup issues, but Miami’s supporting cast stepped up against the Bobcats and expect them to do so again (especially Battier).
Keaton: I don’t know if the Heat have the better supporting cast. The Nets have the younger legs on their bench, and size all over the court. If the Heat can get an inspired effort from their bench, it will definitely ease things for the Big 3.
Ramil: That’s tough. I’d say with Brook Lopez out for the year, Miami gets the nod. Still, Ray needs to come up big off the bench and either James Jones, Rashard Lewis or even the forgotten Michael Beasley will need to provide a spark and help space the floor while LeBron goes to work.
Hunkins: Brooklyn definitely has the deeper bench, but I believe that various role players such as Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and Chris Andersen will outplay them in the series.
3. Will Erik Spoelstra be able to coach the Heat to a win?
Goldberg: Yes. This is a major advantage few are talking about. With his adjustments and X’s and O’s, Spoelstra should school rookie coach Jason Kidd. Coaching can win a playoff series, just see Spo vs Brooks 2012.
Keaton: Erik Spolelstra has become a very good coach, although the rotations frustrate me as a fan at times. With three Finals appearances and two championships under his belt, there is no doubt he CAN lead the Heat to a win.
Ramil: Let’s say he’s got a better chance than Jason Kidd does. Spo’s choice to insert Jones against Charlotte seems, in hindsight, perfect. He’ll need to make similar in-game changes and recognize how to take advantage of the Nets’ smaller lineups. He’s proven he can and I expect him to do so again.
Hunkins: Spoelstra is a great coach, kudos to him for being able to coach three superstars. However, if you’re a team other than the Spurs and maybe the Clippers, coaching won’t help win a series. Ever since LeBron arrived in South Beach, he has been given the green light to do what ever he wants in the halfcourt. Besides drawing up inbounds plays, Spo is there to make sure everything runs smoothly with LeBron at the helm.
4. How many games will it take for the Heat to win the series?
Goldberg: Five. But it will be tough. I just give the Heat the edge to close a few close games out.
Keaton: I’m calling for 6 games, so long as Dwyane Wade is healthy. These teams are very evenly matched, but one of these teams don’t have a LeBron James.
Ramil: I think it’ll be Heat in 6. As much as I hate to admit it, the Nets can present some matchup problems for Miami so they can steal a couple of games, especially if Pierce and the other Brooklyn shooters get hot. The Heat need to play their best defense of the season and, if they get a lead, find a way to keep it.
Hunkins: My gut is telling me five, but I think I’m going to say six games. The Nets are so inconsistent that you never know what you’re going to get. Wouldn’t surprise me if KG goes for a 25 point, 10 rebound game this series.