After getting swept in the season series by the Brooklyn Nets, the Miami Heat kicked off their second-round series by beating Brooklyn twice in South Beach. Thursday's Game 2 remained close until the fourth quarter, when Miami ran away with a 94-82 win and 2-0 series lead.
LeBron James led the way with 22 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Deron Williams was held scoreless for the Nets.
Perhaps the most interesting subplot of this entire series is the battle between James and Paul Pierce. ESPN Stats & Info set the scene:
Tim Bontemps of the New York Post pointed out that Miami Heat fans were in usual form before the game:
Despite the playoff stakes, both teams came out ice cold. The Brooklyn Nets probably missed an opportunity to seize an early commanding lead, as illustrated by team and ESPN feeds, Dan Levy of Bleacher Report and Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.
The score at the end of the first quarter was 21-15 in favor of the Nets, but things got a bit testy between two of the superstars. Bontemps, Ethan J. Skolnick of Turner Sports and Rod Boone of Newsday filled fans in on the developments after an alley oop:
The second quarter got off to something of a slow start, but Mirza Teletovic got hot from behind the three-point line and gave the Nets some momentum. Reynolds and the NBA on ESPN saw it all unfold:
James directed some of his ire at the Nets' momentum toward the officials, which did not impress Boone.
Despite the complaining, James got hot late in the second quarter and scored on consecutive possessions. He helped Miami close the gap to 46-45 by the half, although he wasn't the leading scorer, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel noted:
ESPN broke things down for fans at halftime:
The third quarter started with the rarest of sightings—a Kevin Garnett basket:
Nets fans got a glimpse of something they'd like to see more of in the future. Unfortunately, Brooklyn wasn't taking advantage of the rare opportunities it had on the charity stripe:
Miami was looking rather lethargic in the middle of the third quarter, but James fired the fans up when he jumped into the crowd to get a loose ball:
The Heat certainly had some momentum on their side, but Joe Johnson and Teletovic helped keep Brooklyn in the game:
James closed the third quarter with a basket on the offensive side and a critical role in the subsequent defensive stop. Miami held a narrow 69-67 lead heading to the final 12 minutes with a critical Game 2 in the balance.
The Heat picked up right where they left off and seized momentum in the early fourth quarter. They built a six-point lead and completely stifled anything the Nets were doing on offense. It was almost as if the on switch had been activated.
Michael Wallance of ESPN pointed out that Dwyane Wade was a big part of it:
Matt Norlander of CBS Sports made an interesting note as the Heat took a lead on this NFL draft night:
Brooklyn battled back, but Garnett missed an easy putback right in front of the rim, and it turned into a Ray Allen three-pointer. It is those type of five-point swings that turn playoff games, and Garnett probably knew it from his reaction:
Ultimately, the game was virtually over after the Heat grabbed a ridiculous three offensive rebounds on one possession. James eventually scored with just less than two minutes remaining to give the Heat an 89-79 lead, and they grabbed the 2-0 series lead when all was said and done:
The best news for the Heat may just be that Chris Bosh will get some sleep Thursday night. At least he will if his comments after Game 1 were any indication, according to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
"It's fun when you win the game and you can at least for a night do whatever it is you do, have some dinner, chill at home and exhale a little bit. When you lose, you can't sleep, your stomach hurts and it's not a very good situation."
The Brooklyn Nets will try for their first victory in Game 3 Saturday back home.
While being in front of the friendly crowd will help, the fact that the Heat eviscerated Brooklyn in the fourth quarter will carry over to the next game. It was almost as if Miami could crank it up to a different intensity level when it needed to, and that will not disappear just because the series shifts to Brooklyn.
The Nets simply don't have the athletes or overall talent level to compete with the defending champions.
Perhaps only the teams in the Western Conference do this year.