The Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets are set to meet in the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Miami is looking to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season. The Nets are making their first trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals since 2007.
Miami had the easiest time in the first round of any playoff team. The No.2 seed beat the Charlotte Bobcats in four games, making them the only team to pull off a sweep. Three of the Heat’s wins came by double-digits. LeBron James was the leading scorer in every game, registering at least 30 points in the final three contests.
Brooklyn may have had the most challenging series of any team that still remains in the hunt for the title. They needed seven games to get by the Toronto Raptors, and dug themselves out of a 3-2 series deficit. Joe Johnson led the Nets with 21.9 points per game.
The Nets are just the No.6 seed in the East, but their regular-season matchups with the Heat suggest that they might have the best chance of beating the defending champs. Brooklyn took all four of their contests with Miami in 2013-2014. All of the games were close, considering three were decided by one point and the other went into overtime.
LeBron James: Kevin Durant might be named the MVP of the regular season, but James remains the best basketball player in the world. In the first round, he was dominant against the Bobcats, averaging 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists per game. The 29-year-old continued to be highly efficient, shooting nearly 56 percent from the field. Dwyane Wade has been inconsistent in the last few playoffs, and James may have to carry even more of the load than usual.
Paul Pierce: The future Hall of Famer is nowhere near the player he once was, but the Nets will need him to be a major factor for them to have a chance of winning this series. He a was a key in Brooklyn beating Miami four times this year, averaging 21.3 points against the Heat. Pierce isn’t expected to have that kind of performance in the postseason, but Brooklyn will rely on him to hit big shots.
Not only does Miami enter the series with more talent, but they’ve had a week to prepare for their opponent. The Heat made quick work of the Bobcats, and haven’t played in eight days. In the regular season, they never had more than one day to get ready for Brooklyn. The Nets had just one day off, following a tough seven-game series. The extra rest should also help Wade, who is often banged up.
While Miami’s Big Three is much better than any of their Brooklyn counterparts, the Nets have a significant edge at point guard. Mario Chalmers has done more than enough to start for the Heat, but he doesn’t have anywhere near the playmaking ability of Deron Williams. When Williams has a big game, the Nets usually come out on the winning end. In the first three victories over the Raptors, he averaged 23 points per game. When Brooklyn lost to Toronto, Williams’ scoring average was nearly cut in half. He’ll need to take advantage of his matchup for the Nets to pull off the upset.
Game 1: Tuesday, May 6 at Miami, 7 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 2: Thursday, May 8 at Miami, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 3: Saturday, May 10 at Brooklyn, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 4: Monday, May 12 at Brooklyn, 8 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 5: Wednesday, May 14 at Miami, TBD*, TNT
Game 6: Friday, May 16 at Brooklyn, TBD*, ESPN
Game 7: Sunday, May 18 at Miami, TBD*, ABC
Miami -550, Brooklyn +445 [Bet Online]
Miami in five