The Nets have a problem, and it’s called the last six minutes.
Finishing games is among the several things the Nets are attempting to correct before facing elimination for the third time this postseason in Game 5 Wednesday night in Miami.
Closing out games was a problem that first appeared in Game 3 against Toronto when the Nets nearly blew a 15-point lead, in Game 4 when they went without a basket in the final 6:11 and in Game 7 when they blew a 10-point lead and only advanced when Paul Pierce blocked Kyle Lowry at the buzzer.
“We just got to be patient and stay disciplined,” head coach Jason Kidd said on a conference call Tuesday. “Again, sometimes you can get a wide-open shot. Basketball can be cruel where you make these shots for the first three quarters and you miss going into the fourth. So we just got to continue to be patient and stay disciplined and keep our trust. That’s who we’ve been and I don’t see that changing.”
The Heat have outscored the Nets by 21 (103-82) in the fourth quarter and are shooting 52.2 percent (35-of-67) while limiting Brooklyn to 39.4 percent (28-of-81). Those figures get more noticeable in the final six minutes since the Heat hold a 53-29 edge, and have shot 60.5 percent (20-of-38) while the Nets are shooting 30.3 percent (10-of-33).
In terms of 3-point shooting, that regular season strength has not shown up consistently through 11 postseason games, especially in the fourth. The Nets are 6-of-23 overall in the quarter, but 1-of-15 in the three losses.
“We had some good looks,” Kidd said. “We knew coming in that they were going to run us off the [3-point line] and we probably took a couple of bad threes. Overall we got to attack the paint. We got to take twos, there’s nothing wrong with taking twos [and] understanding it’s anyone’s ballgame when the score is tied with two-something [minutes] left in the game.”
Wednesday marks the fifth postseason elimination game the Nets will appear in since moving to Brooklyn.
They’ve split the two series they’ve had to play elimination games, splitting last year against Chicago and winning two elimination games against Toronto this season.
In the fourth quarter Monday, Williams was 1-for-5 and Johnson was 0-for-4, including two late misses on mid-range jumpers.
“We had our best player touching the ball coming down, so when you have Joe being able to shoot, I thought he had good looks, and they didn’t go down,” Kidd said. “That’s part of the game, but again, when we move the ball guys are making plays for one another, it happens. Sometimes you make those shots, but sometimes basketball can be unfriendly and the ball doesn’t go in for you. But the guys fought.”
“The series is far from over,” Paul Pierce said.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.