If the Heat matchups up with the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs, the defending back-to-back champs will have to play out of its comfort zone to take the series, Chris Bosh said on Tuesday.
The Heat lost all four of its games this season against the Nets, and the most recent defeat confirmed what Bosh already knew. His team struggles against opponents that slow down the pace and play deliberate, half-court offense. Three of the Heat’s losses to the Nets during the regular season were by one point. The other loss came after two overtime periods.
The Heat could meet the Nets in the second round of the playoffs. In postseason series that feature close fourth quarters throughout, every possession becomes an epic struggle. Always, execution is paramount. Consider this: The four games between the Heat and Nets this season featured a combined total of 36 lead changes.
“The margin of error is going to be very small because they slow it down, and you’re going to have to play their game — we are — because we like to get out and run with a fast-paced game and they get it and they slow it down,” Bosh told the Miami Herald. “So, we just have to beat them at that game.
“I think if we see them again we’ll just have to make sure to play a possession game with those guys. You got to get a good shot every time.”
The Heat, of course, has the capability of playing multiple styles of offense, especially in a playoff series with several days to prepare for an opponent. Ever since Jams and Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami, playoff opponents have attempted the grind-it-out game against the Heat, and mostly failed. Still, Eastern Conference playoff-bound teams like the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Bobcats have been built, in part, to counter the Heat’s frenetic tendencies.
“If a team wants to play that way, then they’re going to play that way,” Bosh said. “Get stops — that’s the most important thing, and our backside defense wasn’t very good [Tuesday].”
The Heat was without Wade against the Nets, but Brooklyn played without one of its stars as well. Forward Kevin Garnett, always a difficult matchup in the playoffs for any opponent, missed Tuesday’s game, but should be available in the postseason. Injuries were a constant theme throughout the season series between Heat and Nets, which makes a potential postseason match-up all the more the intriguing.
“We haven’t even really played against Kevin this year,” Bosh said. “Neither team has been fully 100 percent either time, so I don’t know what we really get in a series with those guys because we haven’t been 100 percent and they haven’t either.
“It would be good and competitive because they match up well against us, and they play well against us.”
The controversial block by Nets rookie center Mason Plumlee at the end of Tuesday’s loss to the Nets wasn’t the only non-call that bothered the Heat’s players about the final two minutes of the game. Plumlee also blocked a layup attempt by Bosh with 1:57 left that easily could have been defensive goaltending, according to players. A clutch three-pointer by reserve Marcus Thornton gave the Nets a two-point lead on the ensuing possession.
“If it were me they would have called a goal-tend, guaranteed,” Bosh said. “They always call me for goaltending. It’s crazy. It’ll be a clean block, too. I’m like, man, come on. I can block shots, too.”
With the Nets sweeping its regular-season series against the Heat, the obvious question needed to be asked following Tuesday’s game. James, the Heat’s back-to-back MVP, wanted nothing to do with TNT veteran reporter Craig Sager, though.
Sager asked James if the Nets were the Heat’s biggest challenge in the Eastern Conference.
"Get out of here, Craig,” James said. “Next question."