The numbers say the series is all but over.
The Heat are up only 2-0 after taking care of home court. But, according to ESPN Stats & Information, teams that lead 2-0 in best-of-seven series end up winning the series 93.8 percent of the time (242-16).
The Heat are also 6-0 in the Big Three era in playoff series after winning the first two games. Finally, the Nets are 0-4 when falling behind 2-0 in a best-of-seven matchup.
All right, so you get it. But that shouldn’t stop the Nets from taking a last stand, for all intents and purposes, in Game 3 at Barclays. Here are five things the Nets need to do to keep their season alive:
D-Will, not D-Won’t: It’s quite simple, Deron Williams has to show up. In Game 2, for the first time in 663 games, Williams went scoreless -- on 0-for-9 shooting.
The Nets’ season will be over if passive D-Will shows up again Saturday. In the Nets’ five losses this postseason, the point guard is averaging 10.6 points and has a player efficiency rating of 8.7 (the league average is 15.0).
In the Nets’ four playoff wins, Williams is averaging 20.5 points and has a PER of 20.7. In other words, it’s time for Williams to play like a $98 million point guard should.
The Nets need to be aggressive offensively. And a major part of that is getting Johnson in the paint on posts and drives, which will then open the perimeter up for others. And that will also open up outside shots for Johnson.
So far, Johnson has scored a total of 30 points in two games. Brooklyn might need Johnson to score close to 30 in Game 3 alone to stay truly alive.
The Heat is on: So far, James and Dwyane Wade haven’t had to do a ton of heavy lifting to beat the Nets. James has scored 22 points in each of the Heat wins. Meanwhile, Wade has scored 14 points in each game.
The Nets certainly can live with those numbers, but James and Wade haven’t been pushed yet to do more. Brooklyn has to find a way to keep those two to similar outputs and keep them out of the paint to eliminate easy baskets or assists to cutting Heat teammates.
It’s imperative the Nets keep James and Wade from exploding.
The Truth: The Nets sure could use a vintage game from Paul Pierce. He has a total of 21 points in two games. Pierce has to set the tone early for the Nets in Game 3 by taking it strong to the basket, hitting outside shots and establishing a defensive intensity.
In Game 1, James saw nine different Nets on him according to ESPN Stats & Info. In Game 2, Pierce guarded King James on 42 percent of his plays and limited James to eight points in that span. James took jump shots instead of driving on Pierce. James’ average distance on his shots taken against Pierce was 18.6 feet compared with 9.6 feet against other Nets.
If Pierce hits a couple of 3-pointers and maybe even delivers a hard foul on James, he can get the Barclays crowd going.
Rebound: The Nets have to rebound in so many ways if they want to keep their season alive. They have to hit the glass, secure the 50-50 balls and keep the Heat off the offensive glass (see back-breaking three consecutive offensive rebounds late in Game 2). Brooklyn needs bigger production out of its bigs inside.
The Nets have to rebound mentally, as well. After being close in both games only to let them slip away thanks to demoralizing Heat runs, the Nets have to wipe the slate clean and come with the mentality that helped them win 15 straight home games earlier this season. They must stay disciplined on offense, where they sometimes stop moving the ball and settle for outside shots.
They have to get the Brooklyn crowd into it with stifling defense and timely turnovers that lead to fast-break buckets and make sure that role players such as Ray Allen don’t silence the crowd with any big shots.