MIAMI — The model of the Nets their followers hope exhibits up within the playoffs confirmed up Saturday night time.
The protection was sound, however nonetheless smothering; the fast-break was fueled by turnovers. And the consequence was a powerful 110-95 rout of the Eastern Conference-leading Heat earlier than a sellout crowd of 19,600 — together with Nets proprietor Joe Tsai — at FTX Arena.
Kevin Durant had 23 factors and three steals. Seth Curry returned from an ankle damage to attain 17 factors. Kyrie Irving — now capable of play at dwelling after the exemption to New York City’s personal sector vaccine mandates — had 11 factors and 6 assists. The Nets led by as many as 37 factors earlier than the starters sat out the fourth quarter.
“You could see the energy and commitment,” coach Steve Nash stated. “It’s great when we can turn defense to offense. We can be punishing in transition, but really it’s just about getting stops. That’s the No. 1 thing.”
The Nets had 15 steals, and by the point the starters sat down on the finish of the third quarter that they had a 34-8 edge in factors off turnovers. With the Nets forward 96-68, the starters clearly weren’t wanted within the fourth.
The eighth-place Nets (39-35) stayed three video games behind the No. 6 Raptors and clawed inside two of the fast-fading Cavaliers. Passing the Raptors is essential as a result of Irving wouldn’t be eligible to swimsuit up for a play-in recreation in Toronto.
The Nets additionally pulled a recreation away from the ninth-place Hornets, who they may host Sunday in Irving’s first recreation at dwelling this season.
“It was a playoff-like game for us. We’re in that mindset where every game counts; we play each and every game with a sense of urgency,” stated Andre Drummond, who had 13 factors, 11 boards and a spotlight steal and fastbreak dunk.
After falling behind 15-7 on a PJ Tucker 3-pointer, the Nets closed the primary quarter on a 20-10 run.
Then they blew it open with a 40-21 second quarter, taking a 67-46 lead into halftime.
With the Nets main 80-55 and a bit over seven minutes left within the third, Drummond jumped a crosscourt cross, raced upcourt — flashing the pursuing Tyler Herro the peace signal — and threw down a breakaway dunk.
“I don’t know what made me do it. … S–t just happened,” Drummond stated with a shrug.
“It was definitely hilarious in the moment,” Durant added.
That cushion swelled to 94-57, Miami’s greatest deficit of the season, on a Curry 3-pointer late within the third.
“We got down 15-7 early, but we weathered the storm,” Durant stated. “We took their punch and was able to keep going.”
- Goran Dragic returned from a knee damage. He acquired a video tribute after enjoying in Miami from 2014-21.
- Nash stated LaMarcus Aldridge (hip) ought to come again this week, presumably Sunday.
- Ben Simmons hasn’t been cleared for one-on-zero but, however YES reported that after having ache not solely in his again, but in addition down his legs, the leg ache has now dissipated.
- Miami coach Erik Spoelstra missed the sport because of a medical process for considered one of his sons.