Once the lights, fireworks and Jay-Z’s voice over the PA system were finished, it was time to get down to business. The Brooklyn Nets came out fired up for this game against the team many feel they can surpass as the best team in the Eastern Conference.
During the preseason, the Nets and Miami Heat played twice with the Nets taking both contests. This game is being billed as the beginning of a rivalry. The Nets needed this win if they are to be considered contenders, not only in the East, but the whole NBA. From the start of the game, the Nets were locked in defensively with great rotations and closing out on the Heat shooters. Dwyane Wade decided the Nets were important enough for him to play, unlike their last game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The big question was how would Deron Williams play after being held to only 22 minutes in their last game? He played 27 minutes, scored eight points and dished out eight assists. His movements were good, but you could tell he is still in pain. However, he is trying to play through it for his team.
Joe Johnson totaled 19 points in 27 minutes with two big free throws at the end of the game to keep the Heat at bay. Kevin Garnett once again managed 26 minutes and scored six points, but played stellar defense down the stretch. Paul Pierce played the game like he had something to prove to everyone on the court and everyone in the building. He totaled 19 points, five rebounds and six assists mixed in with some great defense on LeBron James in the closing minutes. Brook Lopez only played 20 minutes and scored 13 points, two blocks and six rebounds. He needs to do a better job of controlling the glass if he is to be looked on as an elite center in this league.
The story of this game was the Nets’ bench. They totaled 36 points, 17 rebounds and five assists. The amount of points they scored were not the story, it was when they scored their points that made a difference. Bench players were on the floor during crucial parts of the game, and helped extend the Nets lead during the fourth quarter. When chemistry is built within this unit, they will be scary to deal with. Jason Kidd will be back next game and the rotations will start to settle a little. Maybe Garnett’s minutes will increase once Kidd returns, or maybe Kidd will keep him at the 26-minute mark.
The Nets showed not only the Heat, but the rest of the league how deep down the bench they could go without missing a beat. It’s only the third game of the season, but the Nets have to be feeling good about their team after giving away the Cleveland Cavaliers game. This win was the true sign of what a veteran team can do when they are locked in. They battled the Heat all game long and when the Heat made their run, Brooklyn did not panic; they dug deep and flashed their potential.
This was a great win, not only for the Nets, but for the city of Brooklyn and the NBA.