Nets host defending champion Heat at Barclays
It is one thing to limit Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick to a combined 14 points on 5-of-25 shooting. It will be even more impressive if the Nets can duplicate that against Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
The Nets take an eight-game home winning streak into tonight’s nationally televised game with the Heat, who are fresh off a trip to the White House to celebrate last season’s NBA title with President Barack Obama. It’s the first time the Heat come to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center.
“This is a game where you don’t have to worry about whether guys come to the arena with energy,” Nets center Brook Lopez said. “Guys are going to come ready to play.”
The Nets didn’t seem ready to play in losing by a combined 43 points in two games at Miami earlier this season. The Heat shot 51.6 percent (80-of-155) and made 17-of-44 3-pointers, but nearly two months later, Nets point guard Deron Williams feels the team is better equipped against an opponent who has won the last 12 meetings.
“The [second] time we played [the Heat] we had them down,” Williams said. “We were playing some of our best basketball and then they made some adjustments at halftime and kind of ran us out of the building
“It’s a good game for us, a good test for us. I think we’re a little bit different team than we were the last two times we’ve played them, but we’ve gotta be ready to go.”
The tone coming from the locker room after Monday’s 20-point rout over Orlando seemed to indicate an anticipation about facing Miami. That might be tempered a little bit if Williams is unable to play after sitting out practice with flu-like symptoms.
Williams has produced consecutive 20-point games for the fourth time this season and is 12-of-13 from the field in the first quarter of the last two games. The Nets say he is probable for Wednesday.
The two losses to Miami are among the 18 in 28 games the Nets have experienced against teams with winning records at the time they appeared on the schedule. Victories over the Knicks, Clippers, Pacers, Hawks and Thunder have demonstrated that the Nets are capable of defeating quality opponents. But so far, they have not done it consistently.
“We’ve had some good wins against some good teams,” Williams said. “But we haven’t played as well as we need to against the upper-echelon teams. That’s what we have to do a better job at.”
The Nets will get their opportunity in the next month to improve their resume against the league’s better teams as home games with the Bulls, Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets and Grizzlies are looming.
“I’m sure we’ll be ready for this challenge coming up,” Joe Johnson said. “I know we’re capable of winning on any given night. We’ve just got to bring that focus and effort for 48 minutes.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.