Insider offers a breakdown of every playoff series using an expert combination of scouting from Amin Elhassan and advanced metrics from Bradford Doolittle to answer three crucial questions. Also included are predictions from the writers and the classic Log5 formula for determining matchup probabilities.
If back in November we had told you that the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets would meet in a post-first-round playoff series, chances are you would not have been surprised. The Nets were something of a wild card entering the season, but with a projected starting lineup made up of players with a combined 34 All-Star Game appearances, there was no denying the collective Brooklyn pedigree. However, if on New Year's Eve we had told you this matchup would eventually take place, you might have been shocked: The Nets were 10-21, and starting center Brook Lopez was done for the season. From that point forward, coach Jason Kidd rallied his guys to a 34-17 finish, four games better than the post-Jan. 1 record of the defending champion Heat.
Late regular-season records aside, the Heat cruised to a four-game sweep of Charlotte in the first round, while the Nets escaped their matchup with Toronto by the tips of Paul Pierce's fingers. Barely two days later, the Nets must reload to take on the three-time Eastern Conference champs, who have been resting and healing since April 28. Perhaps buoying the Nets' spirits is their 4-0 mark against Miami during the regular season, though with three one-point wins and a double-overtime victory, it's not like Brooklyn dominated the champs. In fact, LeBron James pretty much laughed off the possibility of a serious challenge by the Nets. The knock against the Nets' roster-building strategy was that it locked them into second-tier status, with no avenue to getting past Miami. Here is Brooklyn's chance to prove that idea wrong in a series that is ripe with intrigue and storylines.
Eastern Conference playoffs