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Denied: Nets Complete Season Sweep of Miami Heat

by Sean Flattery | Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
Mason Plumlee blocks a game-winning dunk attempt by Lebron James.

Mason Plumlee blocks a game-winning dunk attempt by Lebron James.

Mason Plumlee’s block of Lebron James’ buzzer-beating dunk attempt capped off a 53 percent shooting night and an 88-87 victory over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. It was the fourth victory in four meetings this year versus Miami, a tall feat considering their battles last year. The season sweep should inject swagger into a Nets team that warrants consideration as contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Last year, the Nets lost all three games against the Heat by an average of 21 points.  Granted last season’s roster was absent of some of this year’s biggest contributors, namely Paul Pierce who once again filled up the stat sheet with 14 points, four rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.  Pierce’s leadership has been a key factor for the stark difference in results against Miami this season.  He’s easily the most vocal Nets player on the court and in huddles.  During their games last year, the Nets were unable to bounce back from long dry spells which would nullify many of their leads.  This season, they’ve withstood those big runs by the Heat, by answering with many of their own to either extend or cut into leads.

Last night, after building an early 13 point lead in the second quarter, the Heat mounted significant runs thus cutting the lead to one at the half.  After leading by five after the third quarter, the Nets withstood King James’ attempt to take over the game in the fourth by scoring 26 points aided by four three-pointers, three from Marcus Thornton.

The biggest play of the game came in the last five seconds.  After Deron Williams missed a game-icing three point attempt, James got the rebound and looked to make a play. After passing the ball to Rashard Lewis on a drive, he received the ball back in line for a driving dunk.  As he went up with his usual power dribble-drive and leap, Plumlee recovered nicely from guarding Lewis to greet James at the rim with a right hand to the ball that thwarted any chance of Heat victory.  James thought he was fouled, but the referees didn’t cooperate.

The Nets have consistently showed grit and mental toughness in these exciting and gut-wrenching matchups.  Of the four victories, three have come by one point, and one in double overtime.  The two coaches have utilized their rosters similarly relying on smaller lineups, solid jump shooting, and defense concentrating on causing turnovers, a stat both team thrive in.  Both teams also reside in the league bottom in rebounding, but overcompensate by leading in defense PPG, steals, FG percentage.

These winning recipes for both teams could lead to more thrilling games in this year’s playoffs. If the season were to end today, the Nets and Heat would have to win their first round series to make the possible matchup a reality.  If these games serve as a pre-cursor, fans are in for a treat come early May.

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