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Here’s a roundup of last night’s Nets festivities.
What happened: The Nets swept the season series over the Miami Heat, becoming the first team in the Heat’s “Big 3″ Era to sweep them in a four-game regular season series, with an 88-87 victory. It’s the third one-point Nets victory over the Heat this season.
Where they stand: At 43-34, the Nets are two games behind the Chicago Bulls and the Toronto Raptors for the 4th/5th seed in the Eastern Conference and three games ahead of the Washington Wizards. The Nets don’t hold the tiebreaker against either the Bulls or Raptors, meaning they’d need to win outright. Still technically possible, but don’t expect it.
That Was… A rough game for the Nets until PROFESSOR PLUM TOOK OVER THE PAINT. The Nets played sloppy offense, often relying on isolations and double-teamed post-ups and getting just enough shots from Marcus Thornton and Joe Johnson to stay alive down the stretch.
It almost looked like the Heat would close this out: the Nets only recorded 13 assists to 15 turnovers, LeBron James put up a ridiculous 29-10-6 stat line on 9-16 shooting, and even without Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, the Heat would eventually swing the momentum in their direction and end the night with a victory on their home court.
But when the Nets needed a leader, they turned to Mason Alexander Plumlee, AKA Plums, AKA Plumdog Millionaire, AKA Eelmulp Nosam, AKA the LeBron Stopper, who made four big plays in crunch time to help preserve an historic victory.
Game Grades: Read ’em here.
Mason Plumlee changed the game in the last few minutes: along with the two plays above, Plumlee also threw in the layup that gave the Nets the 88-87 lead and blocked another shot that was absolutely a goaltend.
But Devin, where can I find all the angles of Plumlee’s block that I want? Right here, my friend.
But Devin, was it a foul? It was not a foul. Despite LeBron James’s gesticulations, Plumlee a) made contact with the ball first, not the hand, and b) the hand is considered part of the ball in those situations. No referee’s going to call a foul in that situation.
How was the hero of the game treated? Like a rookie.
Joe Johnson on what the Nets said to rookie Mason Plumlee after the win. "Good job, now get the towels … and the Gatorade."
— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) April 9, 2014
Pierce on Plumlee:"Even though he had a huge game on national TV..big block, he's still gotta come in here, carry the bags & get the towels"
— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) April 9, 2014
Mirza Teletovic, Loving This:
— Dan Fitzpatrick (@The_Jersey_Fitz) April 9, 2014
Teletovic has a history of watching LeBron James flail in agony. So this was no surprise. Still, it’s something special to watch Teletovic, once again a face in the crowd, grinning as the Heat fade into the night without a victory.
Quote of the Night:
Are the Nets your biggest challenge in the East, LeBron James? "Get out of here Craig [Sager]… Next question." #Heat
— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) April 9, 2014
Lost in the Plumdoggin': Joe Johnson hit one of the toughest shots you’ll ever see in crunch time, breaking down LeBron James in isolation and hitting a tough floater over him to extend Brooklyn’s lead to 86-82.
Johnson led the Nets in scoring, with 19 points on 9-17 shooting, including this reverse layup below.
Shaun Livingston, Doin’ Things:
Shaun Livingston seems to have one fist-pumping play per game against the Heat, if only because I’m just happy he’s playing so well. He didn’t take much time tonight, throwing down an emphatic one-hand dunk in less than four minutes. It wasn’t a great night for Livingston overall, but this dunk will stand.
LeBlood: James drew blood on a foul early in the first quarter, confirming he is not a robot.
Funky Lineups: Andray Blatche was a late scratch from the active list with an undisclosed illness, meaning the Nets had just two “true” centers in their lineup: nominal starter Mason Plumlee and end-of-the-bench big Jason Collins. That, coupled with Miami’s tendency to play multiple wing players, made for some fun Nets lineups, with constant switching at all positions, Mirza Teletovic as the biggest guy on the floor, and Shaun Livingston in a center-like position posting up on offense.
My Thoughts At The Half: Give me this playoff series.
TripleDoubleNoAssists: The Nets recorded a grand total of zero assists in the second quarter and just two in the third. It was an odd combination of sloppiness and isolationist basketball: Deron Williams threw a pass into the stands, Joe Johnson kept the ball to himself, Marcus Thornton threw up shots like he was allergic to orange, and Alan Anderson barreled to the rim against LeBron James like he was LeBron James. Awkward.
Was Brook Lopez in Miami? It sure looks like it.
Well Played, Mr. Banana:
"Confucius Chicken Salad" is something you can buy at Heat games. When you think of Confucius, you think of salad.
— Andrew Keh (@andrewkeh) April 9, 2014
Next up: The Nets are in the midst of a two-game Florida trip — they’ll face the Orlando Magic today on the second half of the back-to-back. Kevin Garnett is expected to play.