They were separated by only a mere point after 48 minutes, but the manner in which the Brooklyn Nets came out with a 101-100 win over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat on Friday night showed us exactly why they’re ready to live up to all the hype they generated this past summer.
No one has to be spectacular when the depth is this endless and the pieces putting in the effort fit together this harmoniously.
Not even one Nets player was able to crack 20 points on the night, and yet Brooklyn still managed to come away with a victory over the league’s best team. A team that had owned them the previous 13 meetings.
Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson led the way, putting up 19 points apiece, while Brook Lopez came in right behind them, as his 13 made him the only other Net to score in double figures.
Deron Williams only contributed another eight. Kevin Garnett was good for just six points. So, how on Earth did the Nets find a way to win this game?
Allowing only 100 points to a Heat team that’s capable of putting up much more was the first trick.
Then there was the fact that the Nets used 11 players and got something out of each and every one of them. Not one of their guys was on the floor for at least 30 minutes other than Pierce, who played a total of 31.
Andray Blatche had nine points, Shaun Livingston had four, Alan Anderson and Andrei Kirilenko each had eight and Jason Terry had six. And don’t forget Reggie Evans and his one point in five minutes.
Before you laugh, remember that one point ultimately turned out to be the difference in this game.
It’s not like what you see happening in Miami, where one or two of their Big Three usually has to have a huge night in order for them to beat an upper-echelon opponent. The Nets have bench players who are good enough to be a starting unit on a lot of teams.
All of a sudden you have to wonder why so many analysts always mention Brooklyn last like some sort of throw-in when projecting the four elite teams in the Eastern Conference – the Nets and Heat, along with the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls.
If the Nets look this good this early on when they’re 100 percent focused, imagine what they’ll look like as the season progresses. Their chemistry is only going to improve. They’re only going to get scarier.
Brooklyn’s made their statement loud and clear. Their name can now officially be thrown into the race for the East’s top seed.