The Brooklyn Nets bounced back after a couple of disappointing games down in Miami to beat the Heat 104-90 in Game 3 at the Barclays Center on Saturday night and now trail just 2-1 in the series.
“If we want to give ourselves any tyep of room or any type of chance, I think that we have to definitely take care of home,” said Kevin Garnett. “We stepped up for the city.. We’re representing Brooklyn, that’s important. I thought the fans were great tonight, the building was electric and we felt that from them.”
It was a good sign for the Nets early on that Deron Williams scored the first basket of the game. He wasn’t amazing on the night as he finished with nine points and 11 assists, but it was a major improvement from his no-show in Game 2. Having him getting off the snide so early also took a lot of pressure off.
Like D-Will, the Nets started off well as they trailed by just one point after the first quarter which featured nine points by Andray Blatche and seven by Paul Pierce. The Heat were still hanging around at that point as they shot 64.7 perfect and forced five turnovers by the Nets. LeBron James had 16 on 6-for-7 from the floor in a dominating start.
The Nets took the lead in the second quarter thanks to a balanced attack that saw eight different players score points including a pair of three pointers from Joe Johnson. That was also the first quarter where the Nets started to play effective defense and they held the Heat to just 40 percent from the floor.
Things really took off for the Nets in the third quarter thanks, mostly, to Mirza Teletovic. Teletovic scored nine points that quarter on 3-for-4 from behind the arc. He also did a tremendous job guarding LeBron, who shot just 1-for-5 from the floor. The Heat, as a team, shot just 26.3 percent that quarter and LeBron and Dwyane Wade were the only two players to score as the Nets took a 14 point lead into the fourth quarter.
Teletovic sparked the big rally in the third when the Nets went on an 18-5 run by hitting a three to go up 62-56 in the third. He hit three threes during that streak and had three rebounds as well. Blatche was a big help on defense during that stretch with three key rebounds.
“That’s what he does,” Jason Kidd said of Mirza. “That’s a weapon he brings to the table. He stretches it at the four. We might even have him play the five. He stretches the defense. He doesn’t lack confidence and that’s what makes him a great player.”
The fourth quarter wasn’t the Nets best as it was pretty much a back-and-forth contest between the two teams. They did a good job not letting the Heat getting on a run and got big stops at all of the right times. D-Will also went to the line for the first time all series that quarter and Joe Johnson hit a three with 58.4 seconds left that gave the Nets a 103-87 lead that iced the game for good.
“I think tonight we were definitely aggressive from the giddy-up,” Garnett said. “Although they came out aggressive themselves, I thought we kept it up for 48 minutes.”
Johnson led the Nets with 19 points on 7-for-10 from the floor. Blatche had 15 points and 10 rebounds, easily his best game of the playoffs, Pierce had 14, Teletovic had 12 and Livingston had 12 as well. LeBron led the game with 28, Wade had 20 and Chris Bosh, with 12 points, was the only other member of the Heat with at least 10.
“We were down 2-0 and didn’t panic,” Pierce said. We’re going to get that stuff right we need to get right and come home and execute. Right now we just got to take it one game at a time. You lose game three of the series and it’s definitely not in your favor. We got to play with urgency each and every night. Tonight was the type of urgency we’re gonna need for the rest of the series. It’s easy to have that at home, but we need to have the same on the road.
It looks like a series again after the Nets finally showed that they can keep up with the Heat. They did everything on Saturday night including out-rebounding the Heat 43-27, they also out-shot them for the first time in the series 52.8 percent to 45.6 percent and even tied the Heat in the paint 26-26.
If they are going to have a chance to win this series, the Nets have to keep the pressure up. They’re in Brookklyn again for Game 4 on Monday which is a must win if the Nets are to avoid a potential elimination game in Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday. If the Nets can avoid and survive that, they’ll be back in Brooklyn for Game 6 on Friday night.