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Nets Defeat Depleted Heat to Start Five-Game Home Stand

The Brooklyn Nets opened a five-game home stand with a 112-97 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday, which snapped a 3-game losing streak
Heat guard Kyle Lowry Shooting Corner 3-pointer

The Brooklyn Nets opened a five-game home stand with a 112-97 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday, which snapped a 3-game losing streak, but the contest was a war of attrition that was decided on the trainer's table before the teams hit the hardwood.

The home team has been without guards Cam Thomas and Ben Simmons for multiple games and was joined by guard Dennis Smith Jr on the injured list for Sunday's early evening game. The loss of Simmons, who was injured in the November 6th game, and Thomas, who was injured in the November 8th game, has definitely impacted the pace and style of play of the Nets, who have gone 3-4 in games without both players.   

But the Nets crying into their beers about the injury bug will get no empathy from Miami Heat fans, many of whom were in the building for Sunday's game. The Heat were without All-NBA forward Jimmy Butler who was out with an ankle injury, along with All-Star Center Bam Adebayo (hip), Forward Duncan Robinson (thumb), and Guard Tyler Herro, who has a serious ankle injury that required a walking boot. 

p1030383Those four players represent 80.8 points for the Heat and without them, the Heat struggled to find consistent scoring throughout the game. Brooklyn Nets Forward Mikael Bridges got off to an ice-cold start going 0-4 and didn’t register a single point in the first quarter. But Cam Johnson, the other forward, along with Bridges, dealt from the Phoenix Suns to the Nets in last season’s Kevin Durant trade, picked up the slack and scored 12 points in the first twelve minutes.

Cam’s 12 points in the first quarter on Sunday was his highest-scoring first quarter all season, and he was instrumental in the Nets building a 22-26 first-quarter lead. Bridges showed signs of life in the 2nd quarter as he scored 11 points to help the Nets go into intermission with a 53-63 lead. 

Scoring the ball is the most important skill set on a basketball court and the Heat’s lineup was largely bereft of that skill set. Sunday's game against the Nets was the Heat's 5th straight game on the road, their third game in four days, and 2nd game of a back-to-back in NYC. With a lineup bereft of scorers due to injuries, they had little hope of recovering from a double-digit deficit, so the contest was effectively over by halftime. 

The Net’s 112-97 victory was sealed on the floor by the 3:00  mark of the  3rd quarter when the home team ran their lead to 17 points and led 87-70. Brooklyn’s entire starting lineup scored in double figures, led by Bridges with 24 points and Johnson with 19 points, while guard Spencer Dinwiddie contributed 14 points and 11 assists. 

p1030535With all hands on deck, the Miami Heat are ranked 24th in the league in points per game, so without the best players on their team in game shorts, the Heat are ill-equipped to overcome a large lead. With a crucial In-Season Tournament game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, November 28th, the last game of Group Play that could decide the winner of Group B in the East, it felt like Miami coach Eric Spoelstra chose Sunday's early evening game against the Nets as an opportunity to rest a few road-weary veteran players.

For Miami fans who came to see their favorite Heat players at Barclays Center, it was like going to a Wu-Tang show where GZA, Meth, Raekwon and U-God didn't perform. 

Next up for the Brooklyn Nets is Sunday's home game against the Chicago Bulls.

Brooklyn is learning how to play without Simmons and Thomas, finding ways to win with a new identity. Hopefully, that carries over into Sunday's game. 

Richard Burroughs

About the Author: Richard Burroughs

Richard Burroughs is a Brooklyn-based sportswriter and sports enthusiast covering the Brooklyn Nets and the NY Liberty for BK Reader, where he also writes editorial content.
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