Gunning for a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Miami Heat take on the reeling Brooklyn Nets in Game Three of their seven-game series Saturday night at Barclays Center.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have been in this position two other times against Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, albeit when Pierce and Garnett called Boston home.
Since James and Bosh teamed with Wade in Miami four years ago the Heat have put Pierce and Garnett in two 2-0 series holes, but the future Hall of Fame tandem managed to pull out a victory in Game Three. In 2011 Boston pulled out a 97-81 second-round Game Three victory with Pierce scoring 27 points and Garnett 28. The next year Garnett registered 24 points and 11 rebounds with Pierce tallying 23 points in a 101-91 win, the first of three straight before Miami regrouped and won the Eastern Conference for the second straight year.
Clearly Pierce and Garnett have shown up to avoid a 3-0 hole before, but the Nets will need more steady production from point guard Deron Williams if they hope to end Miami’s eight-game playoff winning streak.
Largely outplayed by Heat counterpart Mario Chalmers, Williams went 0-for-9 from the field, and 0-for-2 from the free throw line, for no points, seven rebounds and six assists in Brooklyn’s 94-82 loss in Game Two. It was a far cry from the 17 points Williams put up in Game One.
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All the woes can’t be placed on Williams though. As a team the Nets went 8-for-14 from the free throw line in Game Two and their defense forced only eight Heat turnovers. Brooklyn hasn’t found a way to limit Miami at the three-point line either. The Heat have gone 19-for-47 from three in the series.
Second-year forward Mirza Teletovic led the Nets with 20 points in Game Two for a new career-playoff high, including six three-pointers that kept the Nets within striking distance.
James continues to lead Miami in scoring with 22 points in the first two games of the series, though it’s a significant drop-off from the 30 points per game he put up against Charlotte in the first round.
Sparingly used in the first-round, veteran sniper Ray Allen is averaging 27 minutes in this series with 16 points and six rebounds while going 7-for-12 from deep range. If Allen continues his onslaught against former mates Pierce and Garnett the series looks to be Miami’s to lose.
Start Time: 8 p.m. EST
TV Channel: ABC
Betting Odds: Miami -2
Over/Under: 189 points
Prediction: Brooklyn over Miami 97-94