View from Miami: “Mirza is giving Heat fans plenty of nightmares”

LeBron James
Game 4. (AP)
Game 4. (AP)
Game 4. (AP)

We’re three games in to this best-of-seven Nets-Heat series, and we’re all chalk so far — both teams have held down home court, and the Heat have a 2-1 lead. Game 4 is a series-changer: a 2-2 tie makes this a 50-50 shot, but home teams up 3-1 in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 143 of 145 times.

To help us figure out just what’s happened — and what’s going to happen — please welcome Surya Fernandez, manager of the Miami Heat Blog Hot Hot Hoops. Fernandez has been around the Heat since long before LeBron James took his talents there, and knows just about all there is to know about this team. Be sure to check them out for Heat coverage.

Here’s his answers to our five questions about the Heat.

1) What was your prediction before the series? Has that changed at all?

Surya Fernandez: I figured the series would go six games and the Nets simply wouldn’t allow the Heat to walk all over them. I’m anticipating the Heat win at least one on the road but whether that’s tonight or in a possible Game 6 is hard to tell. Miami will need to play tonight with much more urgency then they did in Game 3.

2) Obviously LeBron James is the head of the snake. But it seemed like the Nets were able to cut off the rest of the body (so to speak) in Game 3. Did Miami’s Game 3 performance worry you, or is it just an aberration?

Fernandez: I didn’t expect the Heat to go 16-0 in the postseason and in a lot of ways, a good beating can get a veteran team refocused and hungry instead of simply coasting along. The Heat aren’t ones to hang their heads when they’re losing and they have plenty of experience dealing with adversity in the playoffs. Several players simply didn’t get it done in Game 3 – both starters (such as Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier) and reserves – so you have to figure at least two or three of them could have bounce-back games.

3) Ray Allen is terrifying. That’s not really a question, but he’s terrifying.

Fernandez: That’s understandable. I always assumed his shots would go in when he was in Celtics green and that hasn’t changed to this day with the Heat. I’ll tell you what though, Mirza is giving Heat fans plenty of nightmares too.

4) This battle seems to be depth vs. superstars — the Heat are top-heavy with the series’s three best players, and the Nets have a rotation that goes 11 deep. Ray Allen being terrifying aside, do you think the Heat bench deserves more credit? Or is it really up to the Big 3 to get things done?

Fernandez: The Heat bench does deserve more credit because it is deeper than most people think, precisely because the Big 3 get so much attention. That’s almost by design though, as most Heat role players are more than happy to fly under the radar and allow the team’s opposing defense to concentrate on the Big 3. That leaves them with plenty of opportunities to contribute, as all three Heat stars are more than willing passers who can get their teammates involved. Miami always take pride in their defense and that of course is a team effort as well.

5) Okay, decision time. Game 4 predictions. Go.

Fernandez: I expect the Heat, and more specifically LeBron, to step it up tonight in order to head back home with a commanding 3-1 series lead. It won’t be a blowout but their playoff experience will see them through. I think.