The Miami Heat are one victory away from advancing to their fourth straight Eastern Conference finals. On Wednesday night, they’ll host the Brooklyn in Nets in Game Five with a chance to close out their second-round series.
Despite a victory for the Nets in Game Three, no team has played as well as the Heat in the 2014 NBA Playoffs. They’ve lost just one game, and most of their victories have come in a comfortable fashion.
The Nets did have a chance to take Game Four and tie up the series. They led with just over four minutes to go, but a LeBron James three-pointer put Miami on top for good. It was the beginning of a 13-6 run to close out the contest.
Brooklyn won’t have a chance to stay alive in the series if they let James play like he did on Monday. The four-time MVP had one of the best postseason performances of his career. He scored 49 points on just 24 field-goal attempts. He also added six rebounds and two assists.
James has been spectacular the entire playoffs. He’s averaging 30 points per game and has yet to shoot less than 50 percent from the field in a night. Still, he’s aware the Nets won’t be easy to eliminate.
"Play with a sense of urgency defensively. Help one another. Communicate. Try to get the ball moving offensively from one side to the other and attack," James said. "If we do those things, and do it with a clear mind but at the same time an aggressive mind, we give ourselves a good chance to win."
In the regular season, the Nets had the Heat’s number, beating them in all four head-to-head matchups. That hasn’t seemed to matter much in the postseason, considering Miami is just one victory away from advancing. Brooklyn did look like they were in regular-season form in Game Three, which saw them beat the Heat by 14 points and hold a double-digit lead for the final 16 minutes. After the contest, Nets forward Paul Pierce said he wanted to show Miami that Brooklyn wasn’t scared of them.
"You’ve got to have that type of mental ego against a juggernaut. You go against the best, a lot of series are won on fear factor, like, or non-belief. When you have that non-belief, then you have no chance," Pierce said.
The Nets are going to need more than a belief that they can defeat the Heat. They’ll need an improved performance from their top star, who’s looked nothing like the player that is a three-time All-Star. Deron Williams hasn’t been much of a factor, averaging 9.8 points and 6.8 assists on 34.1 percent shooting from the field. In Brooklyn’s Game Two loss, Williams failed to register a single point in 37 minutes.
If Miami wins, they’ll go on to face the winner of the Pacers-Wizards series. Indiana has a 3-2 advantage.
Player To Watch: Deron Williams
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Place: AmericanAirlines Arena
TV Channel: TNT
Online Stream: TNT Overtime
Point Spread: Miami seven points
Prediction: Miami 99, Brooklyn 90