After a pretty convincing 104-90 Game 3 victory over the Miami Heat, Paul Pierce and the rest of the Brooklyn Nets are convinced that the Heat aren’t unbeatable, and more importantly, they don’t fear the defending champs anymore.
“When you go against the best… a lot of series are won on fear factor, or the non-belief. When you have that non-belief, then you have no chance. “What I try to do in this locker room and with my teammates is just try give them belief — that we can beat this team. They’re not unbeatable. You’ve got to have that mental [approach] if you’re trying to get over that mountain that you’re trying to climb.” (Pierce before Game 3.)
As valid as Pierce’s statement is here, the Nets shouldn’t assume that the Heat will continue to play as poorly as they did in Game 3 and they should absolutely still fear the defending champs. LeBron James won’t have just eight shot attempts in the second half of the game, and the Heat as a team certainly won’t have just 13 shot attempts at the rim for the entire game. Even more so, the Heat shot a low 46% from the field and 33% from beyond the arc, some of their lowest averages of the playoffs. This won’t happen again, at least not in the second round to the Nets.
The biggest catalyst for the Nets’ crucial Game 3 win was the three point shooting, where the Nets lit the Heat up from beyond the arc, making 15 three-pointers, and setting a franchise playoff record for most in a game. Think that will happen again in Game 4? Doubtful. As great of an offensive player as Joe Johnson is, his 5-7 mark from the three-point line will be hard to replicate in the next few games of this series, especially now that the Heat will game plan for it.
James didn’t exit the court immediately following the Nets Game 3 victory at the Barclays Center. The former MVP took a hard glance at the bench and the fans, noting how celebratory and excited they were. That moment will be his (plus the rest of the Heat’s) motivation heading into Game 4. That alone should be enough to put fear back into the heart of every Nets player. The energy wasn’t there for the Heat in Game 3, but it certainly will be for Game 4. Count on it.
Jared Doyle is a Miami Heat writer for RantSports.com.
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