The Miami HEAT host the Brooklyn Nets Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Take advantage of this exclusive ticket deal to receive one of seven hats inspired by the colors of Universities in the state of Florida. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM, and television coverage is on FOX Sports Sun. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
1: When a player scores 51 on you, is there anything left from that game to analyze?
Couper Moorhead: In general, no. When LeBron James comes into your building a shoots 6-of-8 from three, the one area that’s been an off-and-on weakness for him over the years, including deep launches and stepbacks, you tip your cap and move on to the next game. But that’s under normal circumstances. With the HEAT having lost five of six and the defense not meeting expectations so far, a performance like that will naturally cause a little more consternation than usual. And this is where we mention the silver lining from Sunday night, which is that all non-LeBron Lakers shot a mere 36 percent from the field. It felt as though there was a sincere and effective effort to get the defense back on track in this one, with many Lakers struggling to get a clean shot off, that will be overshadowed by the enormity of LeBron’s performance. And that’s how Erik Spoelstra explained it in practice the next day – the HEAT show signs of defending how they’re meant to defend in every game, but they’re mixed in with pockets where its unrecognizable. That means the answers are in there, they just have to be consistent.
Joe Beguiristain: Not really, though it’s important to note that Josh Richardson’s ejection midway through the fourth made things even tougher for Miami. Before that point, it seemed as though Richardson was primed for another strong final quarter, as he scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting in the period thanks to some assertive takes to the bucket. And while Wayne Ellington tried to pick up the slack afterwards, LeBron James just proved to be too much. The 33-year-old simply had it going from start to finish and hit tough shot after tough shot against the HEAT.
That said, Derrick Jones Jr. actually did pretty well against James and held him to 3-of-8 shooting in 13 possessions. Of course, Rodney McGruder also did his thing on the defensive end and limited Brandon Ingram to 3-of-8 shooting as well. As Coup mentioned above, there are times when Miami is defending like it should. It’s just that those moments have been too few and far between.
2: What did we learn from Miami’s previous victory over Brooklyn?
Couper: That the Nets, even without Caris LeVert, are not to be taken lightly. The HEAT were in control most of the night thanks to a 37-21 first quarter, but the Nets were plus-one the rest of the night thanks to their high-energy defense and relentless attacking of the rim. Brooklyn’s 35 attempts in the restricted area were the fourth-most this season, and even though they made half of them in part thanks to Miami’s rim protecting bigs, any team capable of getting in the paint that often is one capable of a huge offensive night. The Nets aren’t one of the fastest teams in the league anymore but they still play at a pace what would have been considered extreme in most any other season, and they couple that speed with a ton of willing shooters on the wing, which is why their process is producing results with them being a Top 10 offense as of Monday afternoon.
Joe: We learned that Jarrett Allen makes a huge difference for Brooklyn. With him out of that last matchup, the HEAT got to the rim unabated and racked up a season-high 70 points in the paint. And while the Nets’ defensive rating isn’t great this season, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Brooklyn is actually one of the best teams in the league at limiting the three and forcing the opposition to shoot mid-range jumpers. It’s just that opponents are shooting 45.7 percent on those looks from in-between.
On the offensive end, the Nets have plenty of capable scorers in Spencer Dinwiddie, D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Joe Harris. Overall, Miami did a solid job on those guys on Nov. 14, but Brooklyn also missed some makeable shots. And as Coach Spo likes to say, that past performance doesn’t guarantee anything.
3: How will Jarrett Allen’s return to the lineup change this matchup?
Couper: It was readily apparent last week that Brooklyn, with Ed Davis starting at center and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson backing him up, was missing Allen’s rim protection. Miami didn’t have it’s best three-point shooting night, but inside the arc they shot 68 percent as they lived in the paint. With Goran Dragić out for the next three games (at least) that might have been a different story with or without Allen on the floor, but Brooklyn will likely take all the defensive help it can get.
Do note, however, that Allen has the highest on-court offensive rating on the team at 112.5, a number that would be tied for the fourth-best offense in the league. As much as his length at the rim is needed defensively, the lob threat Allen represents might be just as important on the other end of the floor.
Joe: At the very least, Allen will greatly help the Nets’ interior defense. That said, the 20-year-old center is starting to emerge on the offensive end too, as he had a career night on Saturday against the Clippers with 24 points, 11 boards and two assists. The night prior, Allen went for 16 and 12 in Washington. As such, Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo need to be wary of a player who’s coming in hot.
We’ll see how it all shakes out.
- The HEAT beat the Nets 120-107 in their last meeting on Nov. 14.
- Miami is 6-10 on the year, while Brooklyn enters the contest at 7-10.
- Josh Richardson leads the HEAT in points (20.4) and steals (1.1) per game.
- D’Angelo Russell is averaging 17.2 points and a team-high 5.5 assists per contest.
- Goran Dragić (Right Knee Injury), Dwyane Wade (Personal Reasons) and Dion Waiters (Left Ankle Surgery) are out.
- HEAT Offense: 106.4 (19)
- HEAT Defense: 107.7 (15)
- Nets Offense: 109.8 (10)
- Nets Defense: 110.7 (24)