The Nets enter Tuesday’s matchup against the Heat as the Eastern Conference’s No. 5 seed. If the playoffs began today, they’d be facing the Bulls in a rematch of last year’s 4-3 first-round series loss for the right to play (likely) Miami. With Tuesday’s matchup offering a potential preview of the Eastern Conference semifinals, here are a few keys to the matchup.
After a 19-game absence, Kevin Garnett returned to the court in Saturday’s 105-101 win in Philadelphia to provide 10 points, four rebounds, one steal and one block in just 13 minutes. That’s not going to happen every night, but having the 37-year-old back in time for the playoffs is key for the Nets. Garnett, like teammate Paul Pierce, has been through plenty of battles with LeBron James and his crew while the pair was with the Celtics. His on-court leadership is more valuable than his stat line.
Bring out the broom
A win Tuesday would make it 4-for-4 against the Heat this season. All of the games were close, with the only game decided by more than one point needing two overtimes to settle. This, by no means, equates to the Nets rolling over the Heat in the postseason, but a sweep could provide a psychological edge for the boys in Brooklyn if these two teams face off again.
Dwyane Wade hasn’t played since March 26, and he’s missed nine of the past 12 games for the Heat. It’s possible he’ll be available against the Nets Tuesday, which would be bad news.
Wade averaged 21.5 points and shot .565 over the two games he played against the Nets this season. Clearly, the oft-injured All-Star makes the Heat a far more dangerous opponent when he’s available.