All that regular season talk went out the window in a hurry.
After the Nets had swept the Heat in the regular season, the Miami Heat opened the two teams’ second-round playoff series with championship swagger. LeBron James and the Heat cruised to a 107-86 win over the Nets.
The Heat dominated the paint, gashing the Nets’ defense for 52 points. The Heat, who shot 56.8 percent in the game, also won the turnover and rebounding battles.
“It came down to defense,” point guard Deron Williams said. “Our defensive game plan wasn't executed at all. We were just roaming free."
The Nets had to work far harder for their points. They only scored 28 points in the paint, and many of the jumpers were contested in traffic. James scored a game-high 22 points while Ray Allen came off the bench and scored 19 points.
Williams and Joe Johnson did all the damage, scoring 17 points apiece. Williams sank hail mary three-pointers to end the second and third quarters, but his third quarter heave merely trimmed the deficit to 13.
It was all over but the crying.
Head coach Jason Kidd opted to rest his starters in the fourth quarter, which raised a few eye brows. Seeing as how the Nets had just played an emotional 7-game series, his decision came with merit. The Heat enjoyed the luxury of resting for eight days, courtesy of their first-round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats.
“That's why they're the champs,” forward Paul Pierce said. “We've got to have double effort. We just didn't have that tonight."
In order for the Nets to return to their regular season glory, they will need to play with more energy. Kidd conceded the game in the fourth quarter as he did not want to empty all his chambers and leave no ammunition left for Game 2. Trailing by 15 points early in the fourth quarter did not appear like a winnable game with James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Allen on the other side.
“We got a lot of work in,” James said. “We had eight days off of not playing a basketball game but Spo got us in the gym. (We) got each other in the gym. We made each other accountable throughout the layoff and it proved tonight.''
Unlike the Toronto Raptors, the Heat have championship experience. The Nets will look to Game 2 to put their own experience to the test.