It wasn’t easy, but the Miami Heat beat the Brooklyn Nets in five games and improved their record to 9-0 at home in close-out games over the past four seasons. They are looking to make a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals — a feat accomplished by just the Los Angeles Lakers (1982-85) and Boston Celtics (1984-87).
The turning point was deep in the fourth quarter when Shaun Livingston had a choice to make on defense: Mario Chalmers or Ray Allen. Livingston chooses Chalmers who makes the pass to Allen for a three-pointer from 23 feet out.
It’s not a shot Allen has had a tremendous amount of success with this postseason (see shot chart below) and would be the only three-point shot he would make all game (1 for 7, 14.3%), but it would nearly double Miami’s chance of winning in terms of win probability added (plus-30.6 percent).
“Well, you give the Heat credit,” said Nets Coach Jason Kidd. “They were attacking there in the fourth quarter. Again, we were attacking. They made plays. They made shots and we didn’t … It happens.”
Here are major turning points from the first four games of the series.
Game 1: Heat 107, Nets 86; Miami leads the best-of-seven series 1-0.
The Heat led by just three after halftime but pulled away in the third quarter behind a 15-2 run which included a three-point shot from Chris Bosh with 7 minutes 6 seconds left in the third quarter. Bosh would finish with 15 points on 5-for-11 shooting (45.5 percent) and make just the one three-pointer (1 for 4).
Game 2: Heat 94, Nets 82; Miami goes up 2-0 in series
This is a game Brooklyn should have won. Miami trailed most of the way until Ray Allen hit a three-pointer (sound familiar?) to give the Heat the lead (61-58) with 3:04 remaining in the third quarter. But it would be Bosh’s 18-foot jumper early in the fourth quarter that would increase Miami’s chances of winning by almost 10 percent.
Bosh would finish with another strong performance: 18 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Game 3: Nets 104, Heat 90; Nets cut the series deficit to 2-1
In a game Brooklyn needed to win, the Nets bench came through: Joe Johnson had 19 points, Andray Blatche chipped in 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Mirza Teletovic scored 12 points and had six rebounds. Teletovic would be stellar from beyond the arc, going 4 for 7 including a 24-footer in the third off a pass from Johnson to give Brooklyn a 67.2 percent chance of winning Game 3. No player would add more to the team’s chances of winning in the clutch than Teletovic (plus- 3.9 percent)
Game 4: Heat 102, Nets 96; Miami takes a 3-1 series lead
Joe Johnson led the Nets with 18 points on 5-for-15 shooting, but when he missed a turnaround fade away jumper from 14 feet with 1:16 left in the fourth with the game tied at 94 that lowered Brooklyn’s chances of winning from just more than 55 percent to worse than a coin flip (47.7 percent). Brooklyn would score just two more points and the Heat would win by six.