Jason Kidd made an interesting -- that’s one word -- decision in Tuesday night’s opening game of the Eastern Conference semifinals between Brooklyn and Miami.
Whether it pays off or backfires won’t be known until after Game 2 is played in Miami Thursday night (7 p.m., EDT, ESPN2).
With his team down 13 points at the start of the fourth quarter, the first-year Nets coach elected to open the period with four reserves on the floor and starters Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams, who had banked in a long 3-pointer at the buzzer that ended the third quarter, on the bench.
No big deal there.
But even when the Nets were still within striking range down by that same margin with about eight minutes to play, Kidd made no significant changes. Garnett did play a little over a minute in the final period, but the others continued to sit.
Though he left himself open for criticism from the never-give-up crowd, Kidd did have practical reasons for keeping his starters on the bench.
The Nets were playing just two days after having hung on for a one-point win over the Raptors in the seventh game of their first-round series. After their win, they flew from Toronto to Miami to take on a Heat team that had enjoyed an eight-day break after their sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Fatigue was a potential problem.
Early on in the game it was apparent the Heat were playing with superior energy and showing no ill effects from their layoff. They shot 56.8 percent from the field, won the rebounding (37-32) for the first time in five meetings with the Raptors, and committed only 10 turnovers.
The Nets weren’t all that bad -- Johnson and Williams were a combined 14-of-25 from the field -- but Pierce was only 3-of-8 and Garnett missed both of his field goal attempts, doing scoreless in a playoff game for the first time in his career.
The Nets also showed no inclination they were even capable of making a late run in being outscored 61-43 in the second half.
So it’s understandable that Kidd would want to pin his hopes of getting a split of the first two games in the best-of-seven series on having a rested bunch for Game 2 instead of trying to make what more than likely would be a futile attempt at a comeback win in Game 1.
The keys to Game 2:
-- Will the rest actually benefit the Nets that much? After all, the Heat hardly looked pressed in completing their win. They’re not going to be a “tired” team either.
-- Can the Heat duplicate the kind of team effort that resulted in five players scoring in double figures (LeBron James 22, Ray Allen 19 off the bench, Chris Bosh 15, Dwyane Wade 14, and Mario Chalmers 12). It’s not that they need to put five players in double digits to win, but they need to avoid falling into the let-LeBron-do-it-all trap that often puts their offense in a lull.