Josh Newman, Field ReporterAfter approximately $190 million in salaries and luxury tax payments, after trading a slew of draft picks to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on draft night, and after all of the championship aspirations that marked last summer, the Nets’ season has come down to this.
They are now out of chances after falling to the Miami Heat, 102-96, in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series. The two-time, defending NBA champions now lead the series, 3-1, with Game 5 slated for American Airlines Arena on Wednesday evening.
A game-high 49 points from LeBron James and a tie-breaking, and ultimately back-breaking, 3-pointer from Chris Bosh with 57.1 led the way in a game where the Nets had their opportunities late to win. Instead of heading back to the shores of Biscayne Bay with the series tied 2-2, the Nets will be looking to force a Game 6 on Friday night back in Brooklyn.
“Just one, we just gotta get one game,”said Paul Pierce after scoring 16 points to go along with seven rebounds while absorbing much of LeBron’s huge night defensively. “That’s the mindset. The series is far from over, we have to go down there and try and get one game and force the series back at home.”
“It’s disappointing, but this is an uphill battle,” Shaun Livingston said. “We’ve been in a war, been in a fight. Our backs are against the wall, so we’ve just gotta stay confident and go steal one.”
The prospects of bringing the series back to Brooklyn would seem bleak at this point, but taking three straight to win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference finals will be even tougher.
The Heat is one win away from winning a 10th consecutive playoff series dating back to the beginning of the 2012 postseason. Within that span, they have not lost consecutive playoff games since dropping Games 3, 4 and 5 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Boston Celtics.
Once that happened, James responded with 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a Game 6 win at TD Garden. In Game 7, James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh scored the Heat’s last 30 points in a 101-88 win after the game was tied going to the fourth quarter.
Overtaking a James-led team in a seven-game series has proven undoable in this ‘Big Three’ era and this series is trending that way. In four games this series, James is averaging 30.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and is shooting 59.7 percent from the field.
“Obviously, the series is not over, but we really have to have urgency going to Miami and we got to come out early to roll,” Joe Johnson said.
“It’s gonna take a lot of energy and effort,” Andray Blatche said. “We need to keep them out the paint and talk to one another. That’s pretty much what it’s gonna boil down to.”