Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Brooklyn Sweeps The Heat

Other End Of The Broom
Tonight in Miami, another little sign of how the Heat really haven't put themselves into the mindset to defend their championship run... a last-second loss at home to the surging Nets, who become the first team in the Big 3 Era to sweep them in the East.

Now, part of this is just about how bad the East is and has been, and how the NBA's schedule is the great leveler. Hell, the Sixers have won 17 games so far this year, and every time it happens, I think we all just blinked a lot and tried to think about parallel universes and string theory and chaos metrics. But the real trick is how they went 3-0, had the fourth game on the road in Miami on prime time national television, and got it done.

It would not have happened in the playoffs, of course. Three of the games were one-point affairs, the other was double overtime, and tonight's game ended when Nets center Mason Plumlee (yes, Mason Plumlee) blocked LeBron James at the rim on a scramble play dunk attempt. When the defending champions are in the playoffs, they'll get those calls and have a little margin... but it's odd that the defending champions didn't get that call at home, but that's neither here nor there. The bigger point is how the game, one that Miami wanted for the #1 seed over Indiana and with the nation watching, let the game be close enough to lose it.

It's not that much of a mystery why: Dwyane Wade didn't play. Which led, pretty directly, to Chris Bosh only having 12 and 6, and at that point, the Heat would be an ordinary team in the West. Brooklyn got 49 points out of their wing guys (Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Marcus Thornton), shot better from three, and got the Plumlee block at the close. With the same slow and grindy, it plays right into the hands of the Nets, and it looks like playoff basketball... with only one team really in a playoff mood.

Does any of this matter? Probably not. The Heat are still likely to be the 1 seed. The Pacers haven't played good ball in a disturbing amount of time. Brooklyn relies way too much on Johnson, who might be the most overrated player in the game, and the only guy who seems to take shots late. Their first round series against Atlanta is basically a bye. Wade's likely to return for every game of the playoffs, where the timeouts are longer, and you never play a back to back. 

And all of this would matter so much more if it weren't for Ray Allen's miracle scoop and three to bail them out in Game Six last year. Honestly, it would have been so much more interesting a year in the Association if that had only happened...

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