By Jason Schott - @JESchott19
The Heat took a 2-0 lead on the Nets in their semifinal series after Miami won 94-82 in Game 2. The Nets heavily outplayed Miami in the first half, but only led by one point at halftime. Miami outscored the Nets 49-36 in the second half to get the win.
Deron Williams was held scoreless in a playoff game for the first time in his career, as he shot 0-for-9 from the field and 0-for-2 from behind the arc. Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd said of D-Will's tough night, "I thought he had some great looks, some were just around the rim. The other thing I thought he did well was he set the tone, he was attacking, getting the ball in the paint, he had 7 rebounds and 6 assists, so we look for him to bounce back in Game 3 with making shots, but I thought overall game, he was pretty good."
For Williams, this was the latest in a lot of tough nights in these playoffs. It is amazing that Kidd can consider this a good game from their franchise player. Williams is paid $20 million to do more than just pass the ball around. If they want that, they can trade Williams, save some money, and start Jorge Gutierrez. Williams needs to play the game of his life on Saturday night to get the Nets back into this series. As D-Will goes, the Nets go, as evidenced by their wins coming when he scores around 20 points, and the losses when he scores around 10, if at all.
A key moment that really sealed the win was when the Heat got three offensive rebounds late in the fourth quarter, and the minute-and-a-half long possession ended on a LeBron James layup that made it 89-79 Miami with 1:59 remaining.
Joe Johnson called that stretch "a killer" and said, "It's almost as if we didn't have the energy or the effort down the stretch. I thought we fought so hard to stay in reach, stay within the game. Those last few possessions killed us."
On how much more physical Game 2 was than the series opener, Johnson said, "I thought we came out with the intensity and urgency we needed to start the game, you know, it was pretty much a low-scoring game, especially in the first quarter. They revved it up a little bit, they made a run. We still were right where we wanted it to be, on the road, at halftime, I think it was one, and it was about even going to the fourth, and just down the stretch, I don't know if we were tired or what, but we didn't have the energy that we needed." This is quite a remarkable statement from Johnson considering that Nets Head Coach Jason Kidd rested him, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce for the fourth quarter in Game 1.
Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said of winning a tough game like this, "We'd have to somehow gut it out, and gut out those possessions on both ends. What we talked about was really trying to get those extra possessions and those loose balls, and we were losing all of them up until that point (the three offensive rebounds in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter). But to be able to get some stops like that at the end and then execute is something that is critical in this series."
On the Nets going smaller and stretching them out with Teletovic at the 5 and having Rashard Lewis at center for Miami, Spoelstra said, "Look, you're playing a guy (Lewis) that's a four, possibly a three, at center, and we mentioned that coming into the series, that there would be a lot of unpredictable rotations and matchups and that's what you're starting to see. We have versatility as well, we made the change, you're looking at two teams with great versatility."
Dwyane Wade had a tough start, but finished well with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Spoelstra said of Wade, "I just mentioned that to him as well, that he finds a way, and the winning time, his best quarter was the fourth quarter, and not just the offense at the beginning of the fourth when LeBron was on the bench, we were running offense through him (Wade), he was creating actions either for himself or for Ray (Allen), but defensively, really active. I thought that I was going to have to take him out at some point, but it was so close, it got to the six-, five-minute, four-minute mark, you're gonna have to finish this thing out. He dug deep for that one, and that's what makes Dwyane special, that he figures out different ways that he can impact and win it's not just scoring."
Ray Allen had another great game for Miami, and looks as good as he ever has. Allen had 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting and 3-for-5 on three-pointers, with 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. Spoelstra said of Allen, "It's tough, without that...you just have to figure in tough games, crack the code as it happens. They're a good defensive team that can catch you in their web and flatten you out if you don't do it with energy, and Ray was playing with a great motive, so we were probably getting our best actions off of him running around, either the threes he was getting or loosen up the defense from there."
LeBron James made some amazing plays down the stretch as usual, including a baseline pass to Mario Chalmers for a big three. Spoelstra said of James' creativity, "We say it all the time, we don't take it for granted, but you have to make different kind of plays, you don't know what plays you're going to have to make. I think most people think when he gets it at that point in his wheelhouse there in the mid post that he's just going to be able to create an open shot, but they have good individual defenders and they cut it off very well, and help was there, but he has other layers to his game, and that vision, but also the size and length to make that pass."