There will be a lot on the line for the Brooklyn Nets when they faceoff against the Miami Heat on Sunday.
“They’re obviously hungry to get that sixth spot, as well,” Heat guard Tyler Herro said, per Adam Lichtenstein of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “So just being able to come out with the right mindset, right approach, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Herro is speaking truth to power.
The Nets’ five-game losing skid has allowed the Heat to overtake them for the six-seed sending Brooklyn into the Play-In Tournament field. Their latest defeat – a 116-114 tilt against the Cleveland Cavaliers that ended in some mild controversy – was especially taxing, and not just in a physical sense.
“This is a emotionally taxing game when you don’t come out as the winner on the other side and you had the ball in your hands with 20 seconds to go, and they were going to have to foul us” head coach Jacque Vaughn said on the YES Network’s channel. ”So in a game like this, emotionally, you’re going to be spent a little bit. So I think you learn about yourself: can you let it go and move on to the next game?”
What’s even worse for Brooklyn is that they could fall a lot further if they do not stem the tide soon. That could prove tricky against a heat squad that comes in on a two-game winning streak and has won seven of its last 10 games.
Sizing Up the Heat
Miami isn’t as stout on the defensive end as they have been in recent years ranking 15th in defensive rating in this 10-game window, per NBA.com. But their offense ranks fourth in that same span which could prove problematic for these Nets.
Brooklyn ranks seventh in defensive rating in that same span.
But the Nets have been prone to late-game mishaps such as Spencer Dinwiddie’s turnover that preceded the controversial non-call on Donovan Mitchell’s lane violation which has since been confirmed by the league. Such mistakes like that could once again prove costly against a veteran-laden Heat team.
Where the Nets – who are 2-0 against the Heat this season including after the trade deadline might be able to pull this one out is surprisingly on the glass.
Miami is tied for last in the NBA in rebounding during their recent surge.
For all of their recent issues with it, the Nets rank 17th on the glass which could help them level an otherwise uneven playing field simply in terms of team chemistry.
Nets Working Through Their Issues
“I mean, obviously we keep the energy and morale high,” Mikal Bridges said n a video on the YES Network’s channel when asked what the vibe was like in the locker room faced with their new reality. “But I mean everybody’s talking just trying to help each other. Not just one guy, everybody.”
Bridges called the fashion in which Brooklyn lost to Cleveland “devastating” but also encouraged his teammates to simply fight through.
It’s familiarity these Nets lack, not talent, says Cameron Johnson.
“Obviously, combining a couple players, there’s some things we have to iron out,” Johnson said on the Nets’ off-day, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “But I think the core of what we have, and what we’re trying to do, I think it’s pretty special. We’ve got guys that compete, guys that play hard and you’re gonna start seeing us build this thing together.”.
Having those voices in the locker room is key for Vaughn as he tries to figure out who is going to be on this team next season.