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Court Visions: Playoff lessons as the Nets are back

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

Here's what we learned in the NBA Playoffs on Saturday, May 10, 2014 as the Nets cut the Heat's series lead to 2-1 and the Blazers battled the Spurs.


Nets 104 Heat 90 | Heat lead series 2-1

We learned that the Nets aren't done. Off a ridiculous shooting performance from the outside (15 3's! 15-25 from deep!) and a supremely better defensive performance, the Nets broke the game open in the third and never looked back to cut the Heat series lead to 2-1 headed into Game 4 in Brooklyn.

There are two sides of this. On one hand, the Nets' perimeter defense, which was much more zone-y and much less gamblesome than in previous games worked wonders. They closed quickly on perimeter penetration and stayed home on shooters. The Heat are a three-point shooting team, but not on step-backs or from Dwyane Wade (who took two). LeBron James was 3-of-7 from deep and mostly was just looking to settle into them after getting hot early by attacking the rim (16 points in the first quarter, finished with 28).

The Nets' ball movement was the best we've seen since Game 7 vs. Toronto and they constantly found the open man. A few were on broken-play threes, but for the most part, they just found ways to create corner threes. Meanwhile, the Heat's perimeter defense was atrocious. They're usually on a string, constantly beating the ball to the spot, but instead, they were always two steps behind, struggling to find the shooters. The Heat were not locked in tonight.

The other side was that 15-25 just isn't sustainable. Mirza Teletovic can shoot, no doubt, and Joe Johnson too is deadly from outside. But 15-25? Getting that many is one thing against a normal Heat defense, but hitting that many? Meanwhile, Miami getting 13 assists?

Andray Blatche kept the Nets in the game in the first half. He absolutely took the game to Chris Bosh and Bosh was honestly overwhelmed by Blatche's effort and post moves. He got Bosh spinning and beat him for rebounds. Stunningly bad performance from Bosh.

Before James became substantially passive, he did stuff like this:

• And then Shaun Livingston did this:

• Shaun Livingston killed Dwyane Wade in the post. Wade was pretty bad all around, but especially defensively. Just a step behind.


Spurs 118 Blazers 103 | Spurs lead series 3-0

• You've seen this movie before. The opening credits roll out and yet you have nowhere else to go. You can appreciate the beauty, the art, the subtlety of the film. You know how good it is, how critically acclaimed. You know it's good for you to see it again, that it's better, objectively speaking, than some high-budget action film. But man, knowing how it's going to end, over and over and over again sure does take the fun out of it. But you sit through it, and you smile at some of the nice camera tricks and the sheer beauty that the filmmaker put into it and did you buy peanut butter? You should buy peanut butter. Wait, did you take the laundry out of the washer? Or was it the dryer? You should pay the bills. Man, you hate that new guy at work. Oh, the film's over. Cool. Great story.

• And that's a lot like watching the Spurs out-execute another helpless team into oblivion.

• The Spurs manhandled the Blazers for the third straight time, and the series is effectively over. The Blazers were in no way prepared to play at the Spurs level. Not in this series, not in this game, not in this life.

• Tony Parker was just transcendent for another game. He is so smooth with his handle, so devastating with his hesitation dribble, so effortless with his layups.

• The Spurs' offball movement once again totally stunned the Blazers. They had no idea where it was coming from.

• No Blazer realy played well outside of Nic Batum. LaMarcus Aldridge struggled. Damian Lillard can't shoot. Basically nothing has gone right for Portland.

• Portland makes these little third-quarter runs and they get all excited and then, no, Manu Ginobili hits them in the face with a shovel.

• Kawhi Leonard and Marco Belinelli have been nearly flawless in this series.

• An allegory for ths series:

 
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