MIAMI - The Brooklyn Nets are going to have to dig deep, maybe deeper than they thought.
Playing just 48 hours after wrapping up a grueling seven-game series against the Toronto Raptors, the Nets faded in the third quarter and lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals 107-86 to the well-rested Miami Heat.
Miami hadn't played since April 28 when they wrapped up a four-game sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats. The Nets trailed 56-52 midway through the third and had the ball before the bottom dropped out.
Andray Blatche had a five-footer pop out and Chris Bosh drained a 3 to spark a 14-4 Miami run. After losing all four regular-season games to the Nets, the two-time defending NBA champion Heat were the better team Tuesday night in AmericanAirlines Arena.
"We love playing against the best,'' veteran Paul Pierce said on Monday. "Obviously, the Heat the last couple of years have been the class of the NBA, and this is what you've got to live for. You've got to live for these challenges as a competitor to want to beat the best.
"So I think all the great players in this league and of years past, you don't take that next step of greatness until you play against the best and beat the best. So that's why you relish these opportunities."
The Nets will have another opportunity to hand the Heat their first loss of this year's playoffs. Game 2 is Thursday night (7:00pm; ESPN2) and the Nets dearly want a win to avoid coming home down 0-2.
The Heat put five players in double figures led by LeBron James' 22 points. The Nets got 17 points each from Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.