The Brooklyn Nets won their first overtime game in six tries this season. The 110-109 victory in Miami also clinched the season series between the Nets and the Heat three victories to one. Happily, Brooklyn even managed to win both of their road Miami games in the season series.
The Nets overcame a seven point halftime deficit to establish their own nine point lead with just under eight minutes left in the game. Suddenly, though, the Nets offense morphed into a clogged toilet as regulation ended. Heavy emphasis from the Miami defense towards helping in the paint led to Brooklyn scoring just seven points in the final seven minutes. The offensive struggles continued into overtime with only eight points in the extra period. Thankfully, the Nets defense proved stingy enough to hang. The defensive prowess let Caris LeVert’s 11-footer with over 30 seconds left stay as the game-winner.
We Will Always Have Caris
D’Angelo Russell curiously did not return to the game after his opening stint as a starter. Kenny Atkinson heavily relied on Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert to resuscitate the game. Steadily, Dinwiddie hit his threes and showcased his characteristically valuable passing off the dribble. However, Dinwiddie yet again did not get the benefit of the doubt from the refs on his forays to the rim. Therefore, it was LeVert who truly turned the game around for Brooklyn.
Caris ended his 35 minutes of play with a gaudy 19 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists with massive plays in crunchtime. LeVert hit what would prove to be the game-winning bucket in overtime. However, Caris also made a game-saving transition block in regulation with 30 seconds left. LeVert did not have his long range jumper working like most Brooklyn Nets in the game. Yet, the smooth wing stayed aggressive in the paint to create necessary good looks. Those good looks often resulted in layups for himself. Impressively, though, LeVert never fell into the trap of tunnel vision. Even better, LeVert also stayed active off-ball as a cutter and a crasher of the offensive glass. Rarely has Caris LeVert played a more complete total game.
Rebounding Is a Group Effort
Much like the December 29th 111-87 victory in Miami, the Nets employed a focus on having the perimeter wings help out on the defensive glass to prevent the bigger Miami frontcourt from gobbling second-chance points. Jarrett Allen looked a bit overwhelmed holding off the likes of James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside, and Kelly Olynyk in the paint. Often, Allen only had the recourse of tipping the ball in teammates’ directions. Unfortunately, those tips landed in the hands of Heat players on occasion. Still, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert combined for a vital 23 defensive rebounds to help stem a thrashing in the overall rebounding deficit. Encouragingly, the Nets still got themselves into transition and early offense against unset defense despite not leaking out heavily.
Full box score here via ESPN