Preview: Miami Heat Look to Bounce Back vs Brooklyn Nets

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Nestled uncomfortably between a blowout loss to the Houston Rockets and a five-game, West-coast road trip is a home game against the Brooklyn Nets. The Miami Heat are spiraling out of control while the Nets have seemingly turned things around, winning three-straight games.

The Heat have already won the first two meetings this season, but both squads are a bit different since their last game on Dec. 16. For the Nets (16-16), Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are coming off the bench and center Mason Plumlee is blossoming into a quality player.

Meanwhile, Miami (14-20) had dropped four-straight and is plummeting down the Eastern Conference standings. Chris Andersen is now the starting center, and Chris Bosh has been moved to power forward. Mario Chalmers has also supplanted Norris Cole as the starting point guard.

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While the Heat have recently had the Nets’ number, a lot has changed. Mostly, this Heat team is closer to rock bottom than ever in the post-LeBron era. After losing by more than 30 points to Houston, this defense is ranked near the bottom of the league and the offense in middling in terms of points per 100 possessions while it continues to trot along at the league’s slowest pace. 

Miami’s been outscored by an average of 14 points during this four-game skid. It’s more than a losing streak, it’s a blowout streak.

So the Heat are met with a bit of a crossroads Sunday, 6 p.m., at AmericanAirlines Arena. They can either be buried even deeper in their grave, or they can bounce back with a strong performance–and one that would be one of the most important of the season.

To do that, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will need to play better than they did against the Rockets, in which scored 15 points each. Luol Deng will be challenged by Joe Johnson, but has done a decent job defending him this season.

Plumlee, who had 18 points and nine rebounds against the Magic Friday, will meet Chris Andersen and Hassan Whiteside in the middle. Whiteside, who scored 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting against Houston, has been the lone bright spot in Miami’s recent slide. Andersen has also been playing well as a starter. Both will have to limit Plumlee and Lopez in the middle after the team gave up 52 points in the paint to the Rockets.

Stay with AllUCanHeat.com after the game for your recap and post-game analysis.