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C&R: HEAT VS. NETS EDITION

WAITING GAME
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 18, 2006 11:30 p.m. ET

The Heat have a little time to relax now, and thanks to Cleveland's win last night, they know they won't be getting on a plan before Monday. Of course, too much rest might not be a good thing.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

After all, they're in a zone right now.
-- [Miami Herald]

A few days off will allow the city of Miami catch up with their native son playing out West, though.
-- [Miami Herald]

ONE MORE TRY
Last summer, the Nets retooled their bench, adding the likes of Marc Jackson, Jeff McInnis, Lamond Murray and Scott Padgett. Murray gave them some quality minutes in the playoffs, but other than that, the group was largely disappointing.

So, it's back to the drawing board for Rod Thorn.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger]


MOVING ON
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 17, 2006 12:15 p.m. ET

It was another tight game, but the Heat held on last night to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight year. Once again, it was Dwyane Wade and Antoine Walker who were the keys, combining for 44 points and making the big plays down the stretch.
-- [Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post]

Having won four straight, the Heat are feeling pretty good about themselves, especially how the role players have stepped up. -- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post]

In Walker, we have seen a transformation from chucker to playmaker. And New Jersey fans certainly weren't happy about Alonzo Mourning playing a big role in their team's demise.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald]

GONE FISHIN'
For the Nets, it was a tough ending to a roller-coaster season. They got a career night from Richard Jefferson, but absolutely nothing from Nenad Krstic, who got snubbed by his coach in the postgame press conference.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger]

They did have one last chance to save their season, but when Vince Carter got hung up in a back-screen he was setting for Nenad Krstic, Wade got his hand on the inbounds pass and the Nets never got a shot off.
-- [The Record]

The timing between Carter and Krstic was off, but Lawrence Frank took the blame for the play after the game.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

With the season over, it's time to think about what's next for New Jersey. There will certainly be changes in the reserve unit, and some think that they may need to shakeup the Big Three, perhaps with a Big Ticket. That one's probably a stretch, but don't expect Rod Thorn to sit still this summer.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger, New York Daily News, Bridgewater Courier News Blog]


DO YOU BELIEVE?
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 16, 2006 5:15 p.m. ET

A pair of Nets beat writers check in after shootaround, attempting to give you an idea of how the team feels going into their first elimination game of 2006.

Ohm Youngmisuk writes that the team was "serious" and "guarded." While Bob Considine says that "the vibe right now around this team is only slightly better than it was when they were down 3-0 last season against Miami."
-- [New York Daily News Blog, Bridgewater Courier News Blog]

PICK YOUR POISON
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 16, 2006 11:45 a.m. ET

Wade? Shaq? The Others? The Nets have realized that you can't stop them all. So, what's the best way to defend them?

So far, Wade has had his way with the Nets, either getting to the rim himself or creating wide open looks for Antoine Walker and company.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger]

Shaq, on the other hand, has been relatively quiet (19.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg). So, for the sake of trying something new, the Nets might just let the Diesel do his thing tonight. Or they might just go zone for 48 minutes.
-- [New York Times (reg. req'd.), Miami Herald]

Pat Riley wouldn't mind seeing a big game from his big man. Perhaps something to the tune of the 30 and 20 he put up when the Heat eliminated the Bulls.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

It would help the Nets if Walker and the other role players played more sluggish. But Walker was terrific in Game 4, which should help him avoid the boos back at the triple-A tonight.
-- [Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post]

And Walker's teammates don't mind that he takes so many threes. After all, there are no fours.
-- [Miami Herald, TrueHoop]

On the other end of the floor, the Nets need more productivity from Richard Jefferson.
-- [The Record]

And if the game is tight down the stretch, Vince Carter can't think about his fourth-quarter failures in Games 3 and 4.
-- [New York Daily News]

Winning three straight is obviously a tough task, but for cliché's sake, the Nets are taking it "One game at a time." As if they had any other option.
-- [New York Post]

If they can't do it though, it will be one more year without a title for future Hall of Famer.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

STILL A PART OF THE TEAM

Clifford Robinson made an appearance at Nets practice yesterday before the team headed down to Miami. He spoke to his teammates and participated in a film session.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger]


ON THE BRINK
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 15, 2006 12:45 p.m. ET

Two games. Two bad fourth quarters. Suddenly, the Nets are facing elimation tomorrow night in Miami.

Yesterday, the Nets put themselves in position to win once again, but failed on several attempts to take the lead in the fourth and never got over the hump. In the end, it was a disappointing stay at home for a team that looked so good after Game 1.
-- [Bridgewater Courier News, New York Daily News]

Sunday was a waste of a triple-double from Jason Kidd, who had one of his best games of the playoffs so far, but still couldn't stay in front of Dwyane Wade. But really, who can?
-- [New York Post, South Florida Sun-Sentinel Blog]

Meanwhile, the Heat got their swagger back and they're starting to put away some of the doubts that people have had this season. And at just the right time, too.
-- [Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Still, Pat Riley says that all of the offseason moves that he made won't be justified unless the Heat win it all. For now, he might be able to offer some advice to anyone considering a transition from executive to coach.
-- [ESPN.com, New York Daily News]

Sunday was all about the role players, as the Heat got big games from Antoine Walker and Udonis Haslem, and a big shot from Gary Payton.
-- [The Record]

Still, it helps to have the better of the two All-Star guards on the floor. The Nets have not been able to stop Dwyane Wade in this series.
-- [The Record, South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Meanwhile, the Heat have slowed down Vince Carter, with whom the Nets depend on too much, according to Filip Bondy of the Daily News. Bondy believes that a major change needs to be made in New Jersey, one that sends Carter packing and allows for a more balanced offense.
-- [New York Daily News]

First, the Nets will look to stay alive Tuesday night (8 p.m. ET, TNT).

Some people are already further down the line. While others still want to see more before believing they're a threat to the Pistons.
-- [Palm Beach Post, Sports Illustrated]


MAN DOWN
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 12, 2006 4:15 p.m. ET

Clifford Robinson's suspension is a tough blow to take for the Nets. John Thomas is now the first big man off the bench. That's the John Thomas that the Nets signed with two games to go in the season. Jason Collins must stay out of foul trouble, which means that he can't put Shaq at the line as often as he'd like.

Daily News beat writer Ohm Youngmisuk blogs that this may have cost the Nets the series and that the Nets should never have sold Marc Jackson off to the Hornets.
-- [New York Daily News]

Nets President Rod Thorn will speak on the matter at the arena at 6:30 ET this evening.
-- [Bridgewater Courier News Blog]


A NON-ISSUE
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 12, 2006 12:15 p.m. ET

We headed over to Nets shootaround this morning, where Richard Jefferson was giving an update on his ankle:

"It's a lot better, Jefferson said. "It's almost a non-issue at this point."

How did he make such a quick recovery?

"It didn't swell up when it initially happened. Normally, you spend the first two days just trying to get the swelling out, but I didn't have any swelling, so it was just about strengthening it."

"If you didn't know I sprained my ankle, you probably wouldn't have been able to tell (in Game 2)."

Jefferson was also asked about the importance of Nenad Krstic to the Nets' success in this series and if the young Serbian puts pressure on himself if he isn't shooting well:

"He's very, very important to our team, especially for us to play at the highest level. With that being said, if he does miss a couple of shots, he can't start to stress and he can't start thinking about it and start worrying that he's affecting the team by missing shots."

KIDD'S NO LONGER A KID

In commenting on his All-Defensive First Team selection, Jason Kidd took a good-natured shot at writers who may have written him off as not the same player he used to be:

"I can't stop anybody, but I'll try," Kidd said. "I'm getting old. I'm over the hill. Maybe not in the coaches' mind, but in the media's mind."

Fortunately, it was the coaches that voted.


NOW WHAT?
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 12, 2006 9:00 a.m. ET

As the series moves to New Jersey tonight, do the Heat have momentum? Maybe, but according to Pat Riley, they're still not caught up from Monday's Game 1 loss. And according to one writer, they have to avoid becoming complacent.
-- [New York Post, Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

But Shaq's not worried about having lost home-court advantage.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger]

Really, all we know from the first two games is that we don't know anything. Heck, Riley doesn't even know what to expect from his own team.
-- [Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post]

The No. 1 lesson of this series so far: Be ready to play from the opening tip.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger]

Dwyane Wade seems to have gained a new weapon in his three-point range, but he won't abuse it.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

It might force the Nets to make an adjustment however, and that's what seven-game series are all about.
-- [Palm Beach Post]

Vince Carter will need to adjust to an extra defender thrown at him if he wants to make his mark in history and tip the superstar matchup back in the Nets' favor.
-- [New York Post, Bridgewater Courier News]

Game 3 tips off at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. If you're in New Jersey or Miami, you can also tune into your local broadcast.

WHO'S THE BOSS?
Pat Riley is the man down in Miami, but when it comes to The Boss from New Jersey, he becomes a little humbled.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger]



QUITE AN ANSWER
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 11, 2006 12:00 p.m. ET

Good news, Nets fans. Those of you who are going to Game 4 on Sunday don't have to worry about getting your broom past Meadowlands security as you enter Continental Airlines Arena.

The Heat responded to Monday night's ugly loss by running out to a 25-4 lead in the first six minutes last night and never looking back.
-- [Miami Herald]

It was a simple case of one team wanting it more. The Nets just did not match the Heat's energy and intensity.
-- [New York Daily News]

Dwyane Wade was on fire early and often, scoring 17 first-quarter points on 7-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-3 from downtown. Wade hadn't hit three threes in a game all year, and had hit two only three times. So what got into him? Perhaps it was a late-night powwow with his "big brother."
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, NBA.com, Palm Beach Post]

Pat Riley saw something different in Wade that morning in shootaround.
-- [New York Post]

"You could sense he was in a different state," Riley said. "He was very upset after the game [Monday] night. There was something about his look."

The big brother got back on track as well, showing as much finesse as a 300-pound man could. The diesel went for 21 and six in 29 minutes and this time, it was Jason Collins who was in foul trouble most of the night.
-- [The Record]

So Shaq did his thing, and he's still one of the most dominating players in the league, but right now, he's not as big as his little brother.
-- [CBS Sportsline]

FEELING FINE

OK. So that first part wasn't really good news for Nets fans. The real good news is that Richard Jefferson played and didn't have any problems with his bruised ankle. He wasn't blowing by defenders like he did in Game 1, but he played solidly.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger]

"I wouldn't say I had a terrible game, it just wasn't up to my standards," Jefferson said.

To his teammates, it wasn't really a surprise that RJ was able to play.
-- [New York Post]

It has been an interesting series so far to say the least, with each game being decided in the first quarter and each team suffering the embarrassment of a blowout loss.

So what's next?

"Maybe the other night was an aberration," Pat Riley said (Video) after Game 2. "Tonight was an aberration. Now we get down to reality and crunch it out."
-- [NBA.com]

Reality starts Friday night at the Meadowlands.


NOT SO FAST: JEFFERSON WILL TRY
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 10, 2006 2:00 p.m. ET

Richard Jefferson was bootless at shootaround this morning and will test his ankle before the game tonight.
-- [NJ.com]

Good news? Maybe. Even if he can play, it seems unlikely that RJ will be able to keep up with Dwyane Wade, which means that Jason Kidd will probably be guarding Flash most of the night. That could slow Kidd down a bit on the offensive end of the floor.

8 p.m. ET, TNT.


RJ UNLIKELY TO GO TONIGHT
Posted by By John Schuhmann on May 10, 2006 12:20 p.m. ET

Antoine Walker is likely breathing a sigh of relief as the Nets will probably be without Richard Jefferson tonight in Game 2. Jefferson torched Walker for 20 points in 23 minutes on Monday, but RJ injured his ankle early in the third quarter.

Yesterday, the Nets got the news: bone bruise. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but RJ was walking around in a boot at practice, and even though he won't count out an appearance in Game 2, no one around him believes it's possible.
-- [New York Post, Newark Star-Ledger]

So we'll likely see Lamond Murray or Jacque Vaughn in the starting lineup for the Nets and maybe some minutes for Zoran Planinic or Antoine Wright.
-- [New York Daily News]

The Heat believe that they just need to make "minor adjustments" to turn things around, with most of those adjustments being made on the offensive end. Granted, liniting the turnovers would certainly help, but Miami might want to take a closer look at what happened on the other end of the floor however. It seemed like Vince Carter got to the basket (or to the free throw line) whenever he wanted to Monday night.
-- [Miami Herald]

In general though, Pat Riley realizes that he did not have his team "in the right frame of mind" for Game 1. In the past, Riley would get fired up by such a performance, but he's a different kind of coach these days.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald]

He's not complaining about the officiating either. Shaquille O'Neal is keeping his mouth shut as well, but he doesn't feel like he needs to make a change.
-- [New York Daily News, Palm Beach Post]

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

A few things to keep your eye on tonight in Game 2:

1. Focus on Vince - With Jefferson (likely) out, the Heat defense should key on Carter, much like they did in last year's First Round series when RJ was far less than 100 percent. Carter has told his teammates to be ready to shoot, so it will be up to Jason Kidd, Lamond Murray and Jacque Vaughn to knock them down. Still, having only one guy who can beat his man every time down instead of two will take some pressure off of the Miami defense. And when Vince is out of the game, where will the offense come from?

2. Shaq's Attack - It is time for everyone to realize that Jason Collins is a very good post defender. He's not going to block shots and he can't chase the likes of Nowitzki around the court, but he's as effective as anybody is at slowing down the Diesel. He uses his mind and body to make it as difficult as possible for Shaq to operate down low, as well as put himself in position to draw the charge when O'Neal tries to go through him. So now the onus is on Shaq and the Heat how to best attack the basket around Collins.

3. Where's Nenad? - Without Jefferson, Nenad Krstic will need to pick up some of the scoring slack. He had a great series against the Heat last year, but only averaged 7.7 points on .310 shooting vs. Miami in the regular season and was relatively invisible in Game 1.

Wade's steal sent the Nets fishin'.
(Doug Benc/Getty Images/NBAE)
QUICK QUOTE
Pat Riley, on where the Heat stand:

"Eight [wins], I look at it. We've won eight games. We want to win 16. We're very fortunate to get by the Nets. The team is beginning to feel buoyant. They're feeling good about themselves."
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

2005-06 ARCHIVE
May 5 -- The Wait Continues
April 28 -- One for the Little Guy
April 19 -- Still Mostly Cloudy
April 14 -- You Can Do Magic
April 6 -- Work to be Done
Mar. 31 -- Will Suns Rise?
Mar. 24 -- Artest Fit For A King
Mar. 17 -- Almost Doesn't Count
Mar. 10 -- A Magical Game
Mar. 3 -- Revenge of the Herds
Feb. 13 -- The Heat is On
Feb. 10 -- Left Out in the Cold
Feb. 3 -- We're Going Streaking!
Jan. 27 -- Trade Winds Blow
Jan. 23 -- Points a Plenty
Jan. 20 -- Give the King a Break
Jan. 13 -- Who's the Man?
Dec. 1 -- Welcome Back, Larry
Nov. 17 -- League Pass Surfing
Nov. 10 -- Setting OWGs Straight
Nov. 4 -- Season Underway
Oct. 27 -- The Central Is Stacked
Oct. 19 -- All Dressed Up
Oct. 14 -- LeBron Out Of Hospital
2004-05 -- Archive
2003-04 -- Archive