When the season began and the Brooklyn Nets acquired future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the team’s expectations were raised. When Brook Lopez, who was a 2013 NBA All Star, went down with a broken foot in late December, those expectations were lowered. The excellent play of the Nets in 2014, plus their four victories in as many contestants against the Miami Heat combined to raise those expectations yet again. Now, in the 2014 NBA Playoffs, Lopez is missed once again.
After a blowout in game one, the Brooklyn Nets have battled the Miami Heat very closely in three contests. Unfortunately for the Nets, Miami has won two of those three games and one can’t help but to think that Brook Lopez could have been the difference between winning and losing.
In the one Nets victory over the Heat, they dominated the paint, outrebounding the Heat 43-27, and in games two through four, the Nets have averaged 42.0 rebounds, compared to 31.3 for the Heat. Though Lopez isn’t the best rebounder, especially for his size, the lack of size for the Heat means Lopez could dominate the paint on offense, causing double teams and open shots. The Brooklyn Nets also shot a sizzling 60% (15-25) in their only victory during the series.
After LeBron James tied his career high of 49 points in a masterful performance at Barclays Center in game four, a very dejected Joe Johnson spoke about the loss in game four. “It’s very disappointing. We let one get away on our home floor. Not only let but I thought the points in the paint were the biggest difference. We didn’t allow that in game three. In game four, we gave up too many points; too many easy baskets. LeBron shot 19 free throws; put him at the line too many times but we still had a chance to win. We just didn’t get it done.” Andray Blatche expressed similar thoughts. “”All the things that we talked about, all the things we did in game three, we didn’t do tonight. We let them score so many points in the paint, and that’s what really hurt us.”
With elimination possible in game five possible for the Nets, the season could end Wednesday night. For some, it will be viewed as a disappointing season based on expectations. For others, the season will be viewed as a success. After seeing how close the Brooklyn Nets were to beating LeBron James and the Miami Heat, I will view it simply as what could have been if Brook Lopez were healthy.