As Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors drove the lane in the final seconds of Game Seven between the Raptors and Brooklyn Nets, a thrilling series was about to come to its cultivating finish. The Nets held a 104-103 lead. A defensive stop by the Nets or a game-winning bucket from Lowry was about to end the series.
As Lowry narrowly split a double-team from Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett, the same man that effectively ended Game One of this series is the one that ended the series; Paul Pierce. In the first game he did by scoring nine straight points in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. This time he stepped in front of Lowry and blocked the point guard's game-winning attempt. Garnett had dislodged the ball from Lowry temporarily and that made the final attempt that much more difficult. Pierce finished off the play with the block that sealed that victory.
Game over. Series over. Nets win.
Now the Nets get to face the team that they built themselves up for to try and beat; the Miami Heat. The storylines for this series are of plenty.
After dismantling the Charlotte Bobcats in four games, the two-time defending champions led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, will get their first real test of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. After the completing the sweep last Monday, the Heat will have had over a week's worth of rest. Game One of the Nets-Heat series is Tuesday night in Miami. As James and his gang try to pursue a third straight championship, the Nets are likely to be their first real test of this postseason.
During the regular season, the Nets went 4-0 against the Heat. They became the first team that has ever swept a James led team 4-0 in a season. Each game was a nail-biter with the Nets winning three games by just one point each and the other game being a double-overtime victory. Wade played in two of those games.
However, the Nets regular season success means little to this playoff matchup. Each team knows that the playoffs are a completely different season. If anything, the regular season showed that the Nets can beat the Heat. It also could be something that fuels the Heat and somehow actually increases their focus.
"They've strengthened even more since we played them," said Wade. "Obviously, we've gone up another level since the regular season too, but that doesn't guarantee we win these games."
The matchup will be another chapter of a heated rivalry. Garnett and Pierce will be facing James for the fifth time in a playoff series, their first as members of the Nets. The duo won two series versus James while they were with the Boston Celtics and he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. They then went 0-2 after James teamed up with Wade and Bosh in Miami. Now the rivalry has another twist to it as Garnett and Pierce are now in Brooklyn with Williams and Joe Johnson.
Pierce loves to go up against the best competition and calls LeBron "one of the greatest to ever play the game." The respect is certainly there.
The Heat are trying for a third straight NBA Title. The Nets built their team in hopes of being able to capture a title of their own. If they hope to do so, they will have to knock off the defending champs.
A serious battle is about to commence.
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