In Brooklyn's first five games since acquiring James Harden, its defensive rating ranked 29th and it has allowed an average of 126.8 points, the second-worst mark in the league
But on Wednesday, in their second of two home games against the Miami Heat in three days, the Nets' shots weren't falling. In fact, neither team could make shots with great efficiency.
For the first time in Brooklyn's Big 3 era, the Nets were forced to grind-out a game on defence.
Nets play defence!
After allowing teams to shoot 48.0 from the field - ranked 24th in the league - in the five games leading into this one, the Nets seemed to be more dialed in defensively.
Brooklyn held Miami to 31-for-84 (36.9%) shooting from the field and just 11-for-43 (25.6%) from long range. The Nets forced the Heat into 14 turnovers and scored 18 off of them while committing just eight themselves.
💨 @JHarden13 off the races 💨 pic.twitter.com/Vr6PBc2NTB- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 26, 2021
The Nets held the Heat to just six fastbreak points and outscored them 38-32 in the paint, a category they rank in the bottom five in the league in the last five games.
Harden sparks game-sealing 15-0 run
With 6:31 left in the game, the Heat were down just one (80-81). That's when the Nets put their foot on the pedal to ice this one.
Over the next five minutes, Brooklyn went on a 15-0 run with the five-man lineup of Harden, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris and Jeff Green.
Harden scored or assisted on 13 of those 15 points.
Crunch time @JHarden13 was different.- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 26, 2021
🎥 @MaimonidesMC Play of the Game pic.twitter.com/U6GNdQyfOL
In the five-minute stretch, Miami turned the ball over just twice but went 0-for-7 from the field.
Harden finished with 20 points and eight assists. Durant stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, extending his streak of 20-point games to 14, while Irving finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
All of the numbers from this game look great for the Nets but it's worth keeping in mind that it all came against a short-handed Heat squad.
Bam Adebayo, who was coming off a career-high 41-point game, was the team's biggest contributor with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Goran Dragic had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists, but no other Heat player scored more than 11.
Miami was missing four rotation guys in Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Avery Bradley and Meyers Leonard. In the duo of Herro and Butler alone, the Heat receives an average of 33.4 points per game, while the duo of Bradley and Leonard pose as 3-point threats with both shooting above 40.0% from distance.
Short-handed as the Heat were, the Nets will take it. It'll still count as a win in the books, one that takes their record to 11-8.
On the other hand, the Heat slip to 6-10 for the season - 13th in the East - having dropped their sixth in the last eight games.
After four games on the road, including these last couple in Brooklyn, the Heat travel back to Miami to play seven of their next eight at home. It's the reverse for the Nets, who play five of their next seven on the road.
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