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It was an ugly Game One, but it is a long series, and the Nets still have time to set themselves straight.
And that’s the truth.
In fact, in the words of famous fictional Brooklynite, Mister Señor Love Daddy, “That’s the truth, Ruth!”
With his last-second block, Paul Pierce, nicknamed “The Truth,” sent Brooklyn to the second round.
The fourth quarters that bookended the series against the Raptors were a microcosm of why the Nets gave up all those draft picks to acquire Pierce and Garnett, and in this case, mainly Pierce.
In Game One, Pierce hit big shots down the stretch, never allowing the Nets to fall behind. In Game Seven, Pierce, not known for his defense, came up with the game-clinching block in the waning seconds.
That veteran leadership, that ability to close out games — even if they should never be close to begin with —is something the Nets lacked in last year’s round-one flameout.
And now Pierce and KG get a shot at doing exactly what they were brought to Brooklyn to do: dethrone Lebron James and the Heat.
And fortunately for the Nets, playing against the Heat, Tuesday night’s game not withstanding, is when KG and Pierce are at their best.
In the four regular-season meetings with the Heat, in which the Nets went 4–0, Pierce averaged 21 points per game. KG was only able to play in two of those contests, but throughout his career he has risen to the occasion when facing Lebron.
In 25 all-time playoff matchups against James, KG and Pierce are 12–13. Most recently, they lost in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 as members of the Boston Celtics.
In Game One, the defending champion Heat showed why it is the favorite in this second-round clash, but the team would be unwise to look past the Nets and on to the Eastern Conference final.
The 4–0 regular season doesn’t do much for the Nets right now, other than one key it provides: confidence.
Led by Garnett and Pierce, the Nets still know they can beat the Heat. While the intensity is dialed up in the playoffs, the matchups remain the same. The same things that gave the Heat problems during the regular season: the Nets’ length, ability to switch on perimeter screens, slowing the game down, and limiting transition opportunities, all still apply to this series.
Everything falling their way in the regular season led the Nets to three 1-point victories and a double overtime victory.
Can everything break their way again in the Playoffs against the Heat?
It still can.
Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports-world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.
©2014 Community Newspaper Group
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