For the second time in the first six games, the Nets will take on the the SuperThree of Eddie House, James Jones, and Mario Chalmers. I think they have some other guys, too. The Heat come into this game 4-2, fresh off a loss from the still-unbeaten New Orleans Hornets in an unbelievably fun game to watch last night. It wasn’t fun because the Heat lost – I’m not one of those vindictive anti-Heat folks you’ll find around the country – it was just a great game.
Anyway, the Nets hope to give LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and their team of cronies at least half a fight, and they’ll be doing it in Miami – their second consecutive game in Florida after the loss to the Magic two nights ago. Here are some things to look out for:
- Brook’s bounce-back. After arguably the worst performance of his career – 0 blocks, 5 fouls and 3-17 shooting in which he started 0-13 – Brook will assuredly be happy to see anyone but Dwight Howard manning the post. He scored 20 points in the first Miami game on 8-17 shooting, and while I’d rather he shoot on the other side of 50% from the field let’s hope his numbers look more like that than Thursday’s.
- Miami’s defense. For all the talk of Miami’s offensive firepower, they’re “only” seventh in the league in offensive efficiency. However, they have absolutely dominated the defensive end – leading the NBA by allowing only 94.2 points per 100 possessions. One of the big ways they’ve done this is interior defense: despite having no true interior defender, Miami leads the league in opponent FG% at the rim, as opponents only convert 52.7% of their shots in the area. (For what it’s worth, New Jersey is 5th in the NBA at 58.2%, slightly ahead of Orlando and Boston.) Through five games, it’s hard to find any real weaknesses in this Miami defense – they’re either above average or at the top in every defensive category.
- The power forward rotation. With Troy Murphy back and Joe Smith inactive, the minutes are going to continue to spread thinner for Kris Humphries and Derrick Favors. Humphries was by far the best power forward on the floor for the Nets against Orlando, so I’d expect to see him maintain his minutes, but that could also mean that Murphy & Favors see less time than expected. However, Favors did have arguably his best game so far against Miami – pulling down ten offensive rebounds and earning the first double-double of his young career – so if he shows off the same ability, it’ll be hard to keep him buried on the bench.
For further Heat coverage, I highly suggest you check out ESPN’s The Heat Index. Say whatever you want about it, but they’ve got some of the most talented NBA writers in the country covering the most high-profile team in NBA history. Kevin Arnovitz, Tom Haberstroh, Michael Wallace, and Brian Windhorst are four of the best in the business, and if anyone can cover this team, it’s those guys. Also suggested reading is long-running Heat blog Hot Hot Hoops, run by Surya Fernandez since 2009 and now running independently.