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Heat remain unbeaten in playoffs

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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MIAMI — The Miami Heat are defending their two straight NBA titles in the truest sense of the word — with defense.

The Heat held the Brooklyn Nets to 42.3 percent shooting from the field on Thursday night in a 94-82 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena, taking a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven semifinal series.

In Game 1, the Heat held Nets center Kevin Garnett scoreless for the first time in his long and storied career.

But perhaps that was not impressive enough, considering that Garnett, 37, is near the end of his career.

In Game 2, the Heat held Nets point guard Deron Williams scoreless. Williams, in the prime of his career, missed all nine of his shots from the floor.

“We’re just doing what we can to keep him in front of us as much as we can,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the defense on Williams.

Offensively, the Heat were led by forward LeBron James, who had a game-high 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field.

But this was hardly an offensive show the likes of which fans are used to seeing from the Heat. Miami got just five points from its fast break after getting just four in the first game.

“It’s the playoffs,” Heat guard Ray Allen said. “We’ve been a great fast-break team and scored a lot in transition. But teams are loading up and making sure they get back on transition defense. So we have to score in other ways.”

The Heat defense sprung some holes, but the team quickly made adjustments. Nets guard Shaun Livingston, for example, went 4 of 4 from the floor in the first quarter for eight points. But he was held scoreless in the second quarter and finished with 15 points.

Another example was Nets forward Mirza Teletovic, who scored 12 points in the second quarter on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point territory. He had 15 points at the half but just five points in the second half, including only two in the fourth quarter.

Teletovic’s reaction to getting shut down in the second half was telling and indicated that teams are almost expecting to get stopped by Miami.

“I think it is normal that once you make four or five 3s, they will try to stay with you more (defensively),” he said. “If they stay with me, somebody else will be open. That’s the plan.”

The plan now for the Nets is to try to stay in the series by winning Game 3 at home on Saturday night. If not, this could be over quickly.

Garnett, though, indicated there is no panic in the veteran team.

“We have a lot of confidence in ourselves,” he said. “We just have to go home and defend our home court.”

That will not be easy to do against a Heat team that received balanced scoring again. In addition to James, forward Chris Bosh had 18 points, guard Dwyane Wade 14, Allen 13 and point guard Mario Chalmers 11.

For the Nets, Teletovic led the way with 20, Livingston had 15 and forwards Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson had 13 each.

The Heat outscored the Nets 24-21 in the third quarter to take a 69-67 lead. Allen, who had 10 points in the quarter, was the biggest factor for the Heat.

In the fourth quarter, with the game still in doubt, Miami outscored Brooklyn 25-15. Wade, who had a quiet game overall, led Heat scorers with eight fourth-quarter points, including 4 of 4 from the foul line.

“You could tell early how your night is going offensively,” Wade said. “I saw I was struggling a little bit, so I wanted to do the little things, and then when the opportunity came, I could really help us offensively.”

The Heat are now a perfect 6-0 in the 2014 playoffs, including a 4-0 opening-round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats.

And for all the talk of the Nets’ four straight regular-season wins over the Heat, Miami has dominated this franchise in the playoffs through the years. The Heat are now 10-1 against the Nets in the postseason, including five wins in a row.

“When you are playing a good team with experienced veterans, you have to grind it out,” Bosh said. “Things were not going our way for most of the game. We had to stay with it and get out with a win.”

NOTES: Thursday’s game was consecutive sellout No. 199 for Miami. … Both teams started the same lineups as in Game 1. … Heat PF Chris Andersen, who suffered a knee contusion on Tuesday, was back in action on Thursday, coming in off the bench in the first quarter. … Nets F Paul Pierce turned his right ankle in the first quarter but remained in the game. … Nets SG Shaun Livingston twisted his right knee in the first quarter but stayed in the game.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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