Top stats to know: Nets vs Heat

The most popular stat of the second round figures to be that the Brooklyn Nets went 4-0 against the Miami Heat in the regular season.

That was the most wins by any team in a season against the Heat in the “Big 3 era”.

The Heat had dominated the Nets the previous three seasons, winning all nine meetings, but 2013-14 was a little different.

How the Nets won in the regular season:

Slow it down, limit fast breaks and second chances

Why did the Heat struggle against the Nets this season?

The Nets forced the Heat to play at a slower pace, as the Heat averaged nearly five-and-a-half fewer possessions per game against the Nets than they did against all other teams.

The Nets averaged nearly six more possessions per game against all other teams than they do against the Heat this season.

The Nets played great defense against the Heat, holding them to nearly seven fewer points per 100 possessions compared to their games against all other teams.

How did they defend them so well?

The Heat averaged just 8.5 fast-break points and 3.8 second-chance points per game against the Nets, much below their averages against all other teams.

The Nets allowed more than 13 second-chance points per game against all teams this season.

Difference-Maker: Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce averaged 21.3 points in four games against the Heat, his highest scoring average against any team this season.

Pierce shot 45 percent from the field and made the most of his free-throw opportunities, converting 24 of 27 foul shots.

Pierce’s best game against the Heat this season was a 29-point effort on March 12, his most points in any regular-season game against them since scoring 36 on March 18, 2009.

The last time Pierce faced the Heat in the playoffs was in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat made life tough for him that series, holding him to 45 for 131 shooting from the field (34 percent) over the seven games.

What does the history show?

Only three teams have ever won the NBA title after being swept 4-0 by a single team during the regular season—the 1988-89 Detroit Pistons(swept by the New York Knicks), the 1994-1995 Houston Rockets (swept by both the Seattle SuperSonics and Los Angeles Lakers) and the 2000-2001 Lakers (swept by the SuperSonics).

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the Nets will be the third team that swept a defending champ to meet that champ in a postseason series. In the other two instances, the sweeper (the 1995-96 SuperSonics and 2002-2003 Spurs) beat the champ (Rockets and Lakers) and ended up advancing to the NBA Finals.