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Nets: The long arms of Andrei Kirilenko will be needed in Game 4

by Sean Flattery | Posted on Monday, May 12th, 2014
(Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

(Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s getting to that point in the series where familiarity becomes prominent.  As a result, you’ll see a lot of back talk and “chippiness.”  The Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat have plenty of players who have battled in playoff series’ together as teammates and foes.  Monday night’s game becomes the pivotal one for both teams; the difference between going back to Miami tied, or playing an elimination game.

It should be a tense and exciting atmosphere at Barclays Center, and while all eyes will be on the stars, it could be a guy like Andrei Kirilenko being the key difference maker.

The game plan for both teams will be similar, as both teams pride themselves on forcing turnovers, ball movement, and three- point shooting.

Lebron James obviously is the factor that fuels the Heat offense due to his power game and attraction of double teams.  The Nets did a better job in Game 3 of limiting the wide open looks created by James and Dwayne Wade. Miami shot only 8-of-24 from three point range, and had only 13 assists on their 31 field goals.  Much of the struggles came as result of the energy and long arms of Kirilenko from playing off the ball and obstructing passing lanes.  He only had one steal in the 19 minutes of action, but he brought energy to the defense when they needed a jolt early in the second quarter when Miami looked to be getting in rhythm.

Mason Plumlee has not been a factor on defense this series and Kevin Garnett has been consistently leaving games midway through the first quarter.  If the Nets are going to slow the Heat passing offense in any way, Kirilenko could be a guy they can rely on.  Whether it is defending pick and rolls, rotating on the weak side, or slashing through offensive sets, Kirilenko has the experience and defensive prowess to make an impact.

Let’s be real, he’s not the player he once was when he played in Utah.  Eight seasons ago, he led the league in blocks and made first team all-defense. As he ages, the explosive elevation is waning, yet he’s still provides solid defense on and off the ball.  The key for the Nets on defense will be to make Miami work and be precise.  The Heat have only committed 28 turnovers in the first three games while shooting 51 percent.  The latter should come to no surprise considering they lead the league in field goal percentage in the regular season.  Kirilenko can help with making them hesitate on passes and create second shot opportunities on offense. The Heat didn’t even bother guarding Kirilenko on many stints of the game, so Kidd will have to emphasize that tidbit to the team because the Nets will need their share of easy buckets to persevere.

The Nets will not stop the two-time reigning champions from going on runs; fans have seen it in the four games during the regular season, and in the first three games of this series.  The Nets must try to match the energy of the Heat anyway they can even if it means feeding off the crowd or diving for loose balls. Those “50/50” balls always seem to be a key component of every playoff game.

Andray Blatche and Mirza Teletovic showed what energy on the offense could mean for the Nets this series. The bench is one advantage the Nets have over Miami, hopefully Kirilenko could inspire the defense in Game 4 with some of that tenacity he wears like a badge.

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