The Miami Heat had it easy in the NBA playoffs before May 10. Unlike other favorites in these NBA playoffs, the Heat hadn't really been challenged through six games. The Brooklyn Nets didn't look capable of a fight in either Games 1 or 2 in Miami, yet Game 3 was held in Brooklyn and went quite differently with the Nets' 104-90 victory.
With the season on the line for the Nets, things didn't bode well when LeBron James racked up 16 of the Heat's 30 first quarter points. Brooklyn did keep up and wound up taking a 51-49 lead at halftime, but Miami has usually found a way to pull away before long in these playoffs. However, Game 3 finally took a different turn, with the Nets pulling away in the third quarter to go up by 14 points.
James decidedly cooled off with just two baskets in the second and third quarters combined, while the Heat only had 33 points combined in those periods. Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett had only nine and 10 points respectively for the Nets, but it was far better than the work they did in Miami. Joe Johnson led Brooklyn with 19 points, as five other teammates scored in double figures and the team shot almost 53 percent overall.
James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 60 of the Heat's 90 points, but they were all equally cold when the Nets took control. As such, Miami now faces adversity for the first time in the NBA playoffs, catching up to every other elite team left on the bracket. Nevertheless, all it would take is a Game 4 victory at Brooklyn on May 12 for the two-time defending champions to retake total control.
With the stars on the Nets' roster, including championship veterans like Garnett and Paul Pierce, a sweep would have been unacceptable. The Heat could probably afford to give up one victory, yet giving up two in Brooklyn would actually be a cause for concern.
The path through the NBA playoffs has been clear and easy for the Heat thus far. But with this slipup in Game 3, the postseason is about to truly get under way for Miami. Will this setback be a temporary distraction, or is Brooklyn capable of causing a real speed bump?