We don’t know if it’s the presence of Adam Silver, DJ Khaled or the arrival of the Irving-Durant tandem at American Airlines Arena, but the Heat stop tonight to try to take down Brooklyn .
The Floridians first stood up to the Nets in a big first half where the two formations went blow for blow, with a collective companion to answer the attacks of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant (64-66). And then there was Kevin Durant’s two-part knee injury, which led to his exit late in the third quarter. At that time, the Nets were on the go, especially when Tyler Herro celebrated with a 3-pointer to put his team ahead by score (80-79).
Brooklyn could have let go at that point, especially when Tyler Herro tried to bring the point home early in the fourth quarter by scoring 8 points in quick succession to give his team its biggest lead of the game. (90-81). But pride, the Nets recovered. Because of its accuracy, the trio of Irving-Curry-Claxton did what it took to get Brooklyn back into the game. The pressure turned even less than three minutes from the end, when Seth Curry executed a shot from 4 meters in front of Victor Oladipo to put his team at +3 (97-100).
The Heat escaped with two dunks from Jimmy Butler, after a ground pass from Orlando Robinson in traffic, then with a well-executed counterattack (101-100). Author of a big game, Kyrie Irving tried to kill the suspense with a 3-point shot two meters behind the line. Luckily for Brooklyn, Yuta Watanabe is a bit more energetic than Royce O’Neale. It was enough for O’Neale to send the ball directly to the basket with 3.2 seconds left to play (101-102).
As is often the case in these situations, the referees chose to let the players decide the outcome of the match. In this case, Jimmy Butler recovered the ball, sacked Yuta Watanabe and charged Royce O’Neale to cause contact in the air. Jimmy Butler needed little to offer his team victory despite O’Neale’s fault. Coming in, Brooklyn won the first meeting of the season between the two teams (101-102).
WHAT YOU SHOULD REMEMBER
– Kevin Durant’s injury release. This is clearly the news of the night, especially since the Nets star was hit in the right knee and twice! First there was a knee to knee shock to Kyle Lowry on a penetration 8 minutes from the end of the third quarter. 7 minutes later, it was on a Ben Simmons counter on Jimmy Butler that Butler fell on KD, causing him to twist both knees uncharacteristically. Released loosely, he was quickly forfeited for the rest of the match…
– The Nets’ reaction. Brooklyn could have let go when Kevin Durant left his team 13 minutes from the end, while Miami had a very good game until then. But the Nets found a way to get back into the game and win, thanks to the strength of their duty players like Royce O’Neale or Nic Claxton and also the talent of the Irving-Curry pair. Seth Curry’s entry was particularly decisive as he scored 9 of his 14 points in the final action, in addition to offering a counter to Bam Adebayo!
– Guilty or innocent? Another match ending that will feed the league reports into question. Did Royce O’Neale foul Jimmy Butler at the last second? A priori, the answer is obvious, but there is no doubt that it will haunt Erik Spoelstra until the next match…
If we pass Bam Adebayo’s devastating dunk to Joe Harris, guilty of wanting to play the pass with force behind the arc of a circle under the panel, we’ll keep this Lebronesque basket from Gabe Vincent to end the first quarter. While TJ Warren just planted two straight 3-point missiles, Gabe Vincent caught a quarterback pass from Victor Oladipo with 1.1 seconds on the clock. The Nigerian turned to launch a prayer that found the target!
✅ Kyrie Irving. Less visible after the break, the leader produced a breathtaking first half, to 24 points. Despite questionable choices at the end, he’s still there, such as with his lobbed pass to Nic Claxton, or if only for the threat he represents for opposing defences.
✅ Seth Curry. The one who revived the Nets when Kevin Durant just came out and Tyler Herro was getting hot. Baskets “clutch”, efficiency, that’s all Brooklyn needed at that time. The X factor of this ending match with Royce O’Neale.
✅The Herro-Butler duo. The Heat relied heavily on Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro after the break, perhaps a little too much, but the tandem wasn’t far from overachieving, within a whistle.
⛔️The Lowry-Oladipo-Adebayo trio. Miami will have to hope for more than a game played in nothing. If Kyle Lowry has often struggled this season, Victor Oladipo and Bam Adebayo, who were held in the hand in the first half, came out with a good performance and it was simply not ready in this meeting, especially at the end of the game.
Miami (21-20): the Heat will host OKC tomorrow night (1:30 am).
Brooklyn (27-13): the Nets are preparing to meet the Celtics, their executioners in the final playoffs, this Wednesday night at home (01:30).