Monday, May 19, 2014

Sport For Thought: The Brooklyn Nets Playoff Debacle

"I think we match up well against them" were the words Brooklyn Nets shooting guard, Joe Johnson said when asked about their semifinals matchup against the Miami Heat after struggling to beat the young and promising Toronto Raptors in seven games following an improbable last second block by Paul Pierce. After finishing the regular season 4-0 against the two-time reigning champions, many speculated the Brooklyn Nets would have a legitimate chance of defeating the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2014 NBA playoffs in their pursuit of a championship.

The Nets were plagued by an inability to close out games in the fourth quarter and lost to the Heat in five games. After struggling to win a series against Toronto, in which the Nets lost the final few games of the season to guarantee a match-up against the Raptors, they blew several leads causing the series to go a full seven games while Miami was able to rest for a full week after beating the Wizards. Unfortunately for the team with a record breaking payroll and luxury tax expense, the Nets were unable to close out games in crunch time and that carried over to the Miami series.

Nobody could have guessed that the Heat would have been able to handle the Nets in the manner they did, without playing with much urgency but still being able to dominate when it mattered most. The regular season seemed to set the Nets up in a perfect position yet they were not able to handle the pressure during games going down to the wire. This was very surprising being that of the four times the Nets beat the Heat during the regular season three games were decided by one possession and the other was decided in double overtime with a frustrated Lebron James fouling out of the game. But once the playoffs start, anything accomplished during the regular season no longer matters. It is a clean slate and Miami was able to quickly forget about their four tough losses to the Nets. Instead, Miami won three games that the Nets had an excellent opportunity to win but did not execute in the final minuted of the games.

Lebron dominated and Ray Allen was as clutch as ever with his timely three pointers and free throws, that set up to me no match for the Nets. Joe Johnson was the player that provided a spark for Brooklyn and gave them numerous chances to win, but nobody else was able to come through and earn their somewhat ridiculous pay-checks. Sure Paul Pierce showed glimpses of a vintage Pierce, but the Nets had no chance of winning when the next best players came off of the bench in Allen Anderson and Shaun Livingston. Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett were almost non-existent, and that proved to be the achilles heel for the Nets.

It seemed that Joe Johnson and the Nets seemed confident heading into their series against the Heat, but in the end, it proved to be no match for Lebron and company. Maybe they Nets would have had a realistic opportunity if other players other than Joe 'Jesus' Johnson showed up to play. He was the clear MVP for Brooklyn through these playoffs after struggling immensely last year against the Bulls in the first round. Are the Nets just too old? Should they trade Deron Williams who underperformed? Will they keep Brook Lopez who missed most of the season and no longer fits Brooklyn's style of play? Will GM Billy King keep Pierce and Garnett around another season or should he move in a younger direction? All that is known is that Brooklyn has many questions to answer this offseason and it is at a extraordinary high price for their owner. Yes they were able to compete against Miami during the regular season, but it is clear the Heat are a different team come the postseason and the Nets proved to be no match for them.


Alexa Fontanella is a freshman Sport Management Major at Drexel University, from Totowa, NJ. This winter she will be working with Drexel Athletics on marketing strategies and game day operations for the Drexel Dragons basketball team. Alexa is looking forward to participating in her first co-op next fall and is excited for such an amazing opportunity. She is a huge New York Sports fan, specifically the Yankees and the Nets. 

Follow Alexa on Twitter @Lexa_Font4 and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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