The Nets were outclassed by the two-time defending champions in a 107-86 blowout loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
What it means: Going into this best-of-seven series, the general consensus was that while the Nets were the underdogs, they could give the Heat problems. For a half, Brooklyn went toe-to-toe with Miami.
Then, with 7:13 remaining in the third quarter, the game turned. Andray Blatche missed a point-blank layup that would’ve brought the Nets within 56-54, and the Heat countered with a 14-2 run to take a 70-54 lead with 4:05 left in the third. Miami outscored Brooklyn 33-23 in the quarter.
The Nets needed to instill some fear in the Heat -- at the very least showing that they should be taken seriously. So much for that. Game 2 is basically a must-win, because the Nets don’t want to be down 2-0 heading back to Brooklyn.
Miami, showing no signs of rust after its long eight-day layoff, coasted in the fourth quarter. Nets coach Jason Kidd rested his starters in the fourth, essentially waiving the white flag.
The difference: The Heat outscored the Nets 52-28 in the paint. Miami made it a point to attack from the beginning, while Brooklyn settled for way too many perimeter jumpers.
Brooklyn’s backcourt shows up: Deron Williams (17 points) and Joe Johnson (17 points) were efficient and productive offensively, combining to shoot 14-for-21 from the field. Williams, who received a pair of injections in his left ankle prior to Game 6 of the team’s first-round series, was moving really well and hit a pair of long buzzer-beating 3-pointers at the end of the second and third quarters. Johnson had eight points in the second quarter, and the Nets trailed 46-43 at the half.
Can’t contain the King: The Nets put a myriad of defenders on LeBron James, but it didn’t matter. He was unstoppable. James shot 10-for-15 from the field, scored 22 points and added five rebounds and three assists. He became the youngest player in NBA history to score 4,000 career playoff points.
12-14: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were non-factors and fell to 12-14 in their careers against archrival James in the playoffs. Pierce (eight points, six rebounds) hit a couple 3-pointers early before disappearing, while Garnett went scoreless in 16 minutes for the first time in his playoff career. Garnett’s backups provided nothing behind him. Blatche and Mason Plumlee were 2-for-7 from the field.
Up next: Game 2 on Thursday night (7 p.m.)