Greg Cote: LeBron James, Miami Heat always find an answer to Nets
05/09/2014 12:01 AM
05/18/2014 10:39 PM
So LeBron James is a movie actor now, cast to star in an upcoming Judd Apatow film called “Trainwreck,” about LeBron’s high-school basketball days.
Maybe the theatrical flair is catching because a Heat teammate seems to be featured in some cinema verite’ of his own in this Heat-Brooklyn playoff series. Ray Allen is starring in a basketball remake of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” He is getting younger before our eyes. The Nets’ older players are just looking older. Miami’s oldest player is a kid again.
Allen spent much of the regular-season struggling, his three-point shot off. Now, when it counts, it seems vigor and shot have returned.
“For some reason it does!” agreed a smiling LeBron afterward. “It’s big-time for our team to have that trigger.”
“Ray’s amazing,” Chris Bosh said. “I want to be like him when I grow up.”
The frustrations for Brooklyn must be — or should be — mounting in this second-round NBA series, which feels over now with a 2-0 Miami lead. The Heat in the LeBron era never has lost a postseason series when up by that margin.
The Nets played much better than in the first game, continued to limit Miami’s fast break, defended the paint area much better, fought harder, and still Heat fans were roaring at the end as the home team eased to a 94-82 triumph Thursday night in the downtown bayside arena.
Here is the Brooklyn dilemma: You spend so, so much energy trying to limit James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and in swoops Allen, 39 this summer, the years falling away, partying like it’s 2006.
Allen lent the spark off the bench again Thursday, with 13 points and a team-leading nine rebounds, after hitting 19 points in the series opener.
“We were getting our best actions off of him running around, the threes he was getting or him loosening up the defense,” said coach Erik Spoelstra. “He’s a veteran guy used to these moments. He had a sense of what we needed.”
Allen had 10 points in the third quarter as Miami wrested the lead for good, and with it series control.
“He’s world champ,” said Nets coach Jason Kidd, of Allen. “He enjoys this stage, and the first two games he’s been big for them.”
Brooklyn seemed to wear down late as the Heat gained steam.
“As the game wore on we started to pick up the pace of playing the way we wanted to play,” Allen said.
Miami’s tenacious defense held Brooklyn to 42 percent shooting including 8-for-24 on three-pointers, and held Deron Williams to zero points on 0-for-9 shooting.
Meantime the Heat’s offensive punches for coming from everywhere.
James had only three points late in the second quarter, as quiet as a 6-8 freight train can be, but then he took over. Wade was sputtering and then scored Miami’s first seven points in the third quarter.
At one point, late, the Heat — worst offensive-rebounding team in the league — had four consecutive offensive boards for a 100-second possession that iced the victory. The din in the building went sonic. The Nets’ back had been broken.
“That was a killer,” Brooklyn’s Joe Johnson said of that one telling possession. “It’s almost as if we just didn’t have the energy or effort down the stretch. We fought so hard to stay close, but those last few possessions killed us.”
The Heat will do that to you.
They answer whatever you try.
James finished that long possession with a layup that put Miami up 10.
“Definitely a huge play for us,” James said.
Brooklyn tried to play small-ball with the Heat Thursday. It didn’t work.
“We have versatility there with matchups as well,” said Spoelstra.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers are the only two teams that can run with Miami. Otherwise you must beat Miami with size, and the Nets are bereft.
The two players the Nets need to get back in this series are not available.
One is 7-0 center Brook Lopez, who has been out since 17 games into the season with a foot injury.
The other is 6-11 Kevin Garnett, who is aging before our eyes, rigor mortis setting into his career.
The Nets need a medical miracle or a time warp; neither is available.
And Miami, after what James called “a very frustrating regular season,” is now healthy, 6-0 in the postseason and in charge.
James’ new movie may be called “Trainwreck,” but his team is the locomotive right now, a two-time defending champion moving like a freight train, and picking up speed.