This is what we’ve been waiting for since June: Before the Nets enter their second-round matchup with the 2-time defending champions, the Miami Heat, we asked everybody at The Brooklyn Game to weigh in on their final predictions.
- Devin Kharpertian: Make no mistake: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce may be the Boston Heart Transplant, but that’s not what makes them dangerous in this series. What makes Garnett dangerous will be his ability to check Chris Bosh and commit hard fouls on LeBron James. What makes Pierce dangerous is his ability to hit low-percentage shots, get to the rim, draw contact, and hit above-the-break three-pointers.
Yes, the Nets have all the “heart, grit, and balls” that Shaun Livingston can comment on. But this will be a fantastically tactical series fought between two intelligent coaches, one with championship experience and one that just became the first rookie coach in NBA history to win a Game 7 on the road, and two unorthodox rosters that play a similar havoc-inducing defense and spread-out offense. These are two teams that are going to work their asses off against each other, and they’re also two of the smartest teams in basketball. This is going to be so fun to watch, whether it goes four or seven.
Before the season, I thought the Nets would meet the Heat in the Conference Finals, where they’d lose. But: after as tight a regular-season sweep can be, I think the coin lands in the other direction. Heat in 5.
- Max Weisberg: Did you know that the Nets beat the Heat in all four regular season meetings? Well if you didn’t, you’ve been living under a rock without electricity for these past few days, since it’s been mentioned in every series preview that has ever existed. (Including ours. Well, it’s true!)
But the Nets do match up well with the Heat. Don’t get caught up in Game 1’s results. People will overreact either way: if the Nets lose, it’s fatigue from a long, hard-fought series against Toronto, and if they win, it’s because the Heat are rusty after sweeping the Bobcats.
Since LeBron James joined the Heat, Jason Kidd’s teams are a combined 13-5 against them. So he’s got something right. Unfortunately, I think the Heat are a different team in the playoffs. Their bench isn’t as strong as its been the past few seasons, but James & co. will still find a way to beat Brooklyn. Heat in 7.
- Chris Hooker: Before the season started, I picked the Brooklyn Nets to win the NBA title. I did this because I had never in my life picked my favorite team to win a championship with a straight face, and in the preseason, I thought the Nets were close enough where I wouldn’t look like a complete homer for doing so. I also thought that Miami wouldn’t have what it would take to three-peat, and there would be a new team to come out of the East.
So here we are, the series I thought would happen six months ago, only things look a little bleaker now that we are actually here, don’t they?
I disagree with everyone who says that the Nets sweeping the Heat doesn’t mean anything to this series. It does because the Nets know how to beat them. It doesn’t matter if it’s by one point or in double OT, they stopped LeBron James four times. And for those who say the Heat “weren’t trying” or “weren’t healthy,” how about the fact that LeBron averaged more minutes against the Nets than he did in any other season series (41.7), or that the Nets beat the Heat in games without Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko and Brook Lopez?
Miami was trying, and they were just as banged up as Brooklyn. The Nets could lose this series in four, but I’m 100% sure that it will be the hardest-fought four losses we’ll have ever see out of this team. The Nets will not go down as easy as everyone thinks.
I’m sticking with October. Let’s go. Nets in 6.
- Will Rausch: From the Heat being rested, to the Nets’ undefeated record over the Heat in the regular season, to KG/Pierce vs LeBron James, well, you can throw out all those narratives come this point. To be dispassionate, I developed a complex algorithm to predict the winner of this series:
Do you have LeBron James?
Yes –> you win.
No –> you don’t win.
I’d probably pick Heat in six, but we are talkin’ bout #theseplayoffs. Heat in 7.
- Ben Nadeau: Back in October, I predicted that the Brooklyn Nets would represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. I’ll save the drama: I’m sticking with it. This is not a drill. Garnett and Pierce don’t have the step they used to, but one thing is for certain: they do not like Miami. They do not like LeBron James. You’ve watched the games this year; Brooklyn matches up with Miami well, but the Heat have the best player in the NBA.
This series has six or seven games written all over it. The X-Factor? Marcus Thornton and Mirza Teletovic. The Nets have proven all year that their starters can hang with James and the 2-time defending champions. However, if they want to win, they’re going to need some punch off the bench. Miami can swing a game in a moment’s notice thanks to Rashard Lewis, Norris Cole, and James Jones’ three-point shooting with the second unit, so the Nets must counter those blows.
Besides, who doesn’t want to see Teletovic get under King James’ skin again? Nets in 7.