When: 8 p.m. EST
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena
Watch: YES Network
Listen: 101.9 FM, 660 AM
With seven games left on the schedule, the Brooklyn Nets are staying in Florida to face the 41-35 Miami Heat, a team currently battling for seeding in the East. The Heat are close to returning to the playoffs after finishing in ninth last year, missing out due to a tiebreaker with the Chicago Bulls. In case you forgot, Heat fans were not happy with the Nets about that.
The Nets, like last season, have little to play for outside respect and growth, but the team is coming off a strong 111-104 victory over the tanking Magic. It was a game the Nets were supposed to win in some respects, but as Nets fans know from this season, that has meant little before. Instead, the Brooklyn Nets had even contributions across the board and staved off a late-third quarter Magic comeback to win their 24th game, keeping the dream of 30 wins alive.
Miami, despite climbing as high as third in the Eastern Conference at one stage, has fallen slightly with a difficult schedule. Still, the Heat have gone 6-4 in their last ten games, including three overtime results and impressive wins over the Wizards, Nuggets and most recently the Cavaliers. Like most playoff-bound teams, the Heat have been strong at home and the Nets will have to get it going to give them a scare.
Three Things to Watch For
Russell is coming off an all-around solid game against the Magic on Wednesday, recording 16 points and 12 assists. The key for Russell now is consistency. The last three times Russell registered eight or more assists, in the next game his assist numbers were three, two and one, respectively. He also scored a combined 24 points in those three games.
The next level for Russell is to back up solid performances, and he gets a chance to do so on Saturday.
Kelly Olynyk is arguably playing his best basketball of the season at the moment. Before Miami’s game against the Chicago Bulls on March 29, Kelly was averaging 18.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.6 steals over his last five games.
Olynyk is a big with a three-point threat, something the Nets have struggled with and need to pay close attention to. If they do not, Olynyk could get off the leash and hurt Brooklyn.
Against the Magic on March 28, seven different Nets scored between 13 and 16 points. This included the starting five plus Joe Harris and Caris LeVert. On top of that, all seven took between 10 and 15 field goal attempts (expect Joe Harris).
This balanced scoring effort and attack options were signs of how the team has multiple offensive options it can rely on. There will be times where the team will need to lean on different players, but if Brooklyn can solve some of its defensive woes with combinations that derive from these seven players, the Nets can assume they could still be sound enough offensively to compete consistently.