The Nets and Heat have switched roles as of late, with New Jersey winning two of their last three games, including a win against the Dallas Mavericks, and the Heat losing two in a row, albeit without star power forward Chris Bosh.
While the Nets have a better record than the Heat since the 2012 NBA All-Star break, the Nets will be hard-pressed to beat the Heat, who will be looking to get back on track with a dominating win against Deron Williams and the Nets.
If the Nets had any chance of beating the Heat, it was rooted in the return of Brook Lopez. Unfortunately for the Nets, Lopez is out again, missing at least three weeks with a right ankle sprain.
With that being said, the Nets aren't exactly a pushover for the Heat, who have looked less than impressive as of late, with losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz. If the Heat want to beat the Nets, there are key matchups that they must focus on and win, both offensively and defensively speaking.
Ahead are those three key matchups to watch, as the Heat head back to South Beach, looking to get back on track.
Deron Williams vs. Mario Chalmers/Norris Cole
There's no doubt that the Nets have the advantage when it comes to point guard play, with Deron Williams going off for 57 points, in large part due to his impressive 100.0 percent from the foul line. While Williams' performance could be chalked up to the fact that they were playing the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, there's no doubt that Williams always has the potential to take over games.
If there's one thing, though, that Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole have managed to do this season it's shut down opposing point guards, as evidenced by their lock-down performance on New York Knicks' Linsanity. Chalmers specifically has to put the defensive pressure on Deron Williams early and often, forcing Williams into early turnovers and poor shot selection, putting his confidence on shaky ground early in the first quarter.
The Heat's point guards need to lock down Deron Williams, forcing the rest of the Nets' underwhelming roster to beat them instead of the All-Star point guard. If Chalmers and Cole can manage to keep Deron Williams to around his season average of 22.6 points, the Heat will be able to snap their two-game losing streak.
LeBron James vs. Entire Nets Defense
The last time the Miami Heat met up with the New Jersey Nets, LeBron James led the Heat to a win with 32 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and two steals. Oh, and he did that without having Dwyane Wade on the court.
With Dwyane Wade back in the starting lineup, shifting a majority of the defensive focus off of LeBron, it will be interesting to see just how dominant LeBron can be against the New Jersey Nets. LeBron might not set the world on fire with points, with Wade's offensive production beside him, but I wouldn't be shocked if LeBron records his first triple-double of the season on Tuesday night.
If LeBron can manage to facilitate the offense early on in the game, and get out with Dwyane Wade into the transition offense, there's a zero percent chance that the Nets will leave South Beach with a victory.
Chris Bosh vs. Kris Humphries
Assuming Chris Bosh returns to the Heat's starting lineup on Tuesday night for the first time in three games since leaving the team to mourn the death of his grandmother, the way that he plays against Kris Humphries will be a major key to a win for the Miami Heat.
The one constant in the Heat's past two losses has been the absence of a legitimate offensive post presence. While the former Mr. Kardashian, also known as Kris Humphries, isn't exactly on the same level as guys like Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum or Al Jefferson, he's still a legitimate post player that scorched the Heat for 25 points the last time the two teams met.
Locking down Kris Humphries, forcing other guys like MarShon Brooks, DeShawn Stevenson and Johan Petro, to beat them, will be a key to a Heat victory on Tuesday night. If Bosh isn't in the starting lineup, the Heat will have to find an answer for Kris Humphries with either Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony or Dexter Pittman, and that's something that the Heat most likely won't be able to do.
It's important that Miami doesn't get caught looking forward to their upcoming matchup with the Atlanta Hawks by overlooking the somewhat hot New Jersey Nets on Tuesday Night.
If the Heat focus on the three matchups listed in this article, they should have no problem putting an end to their two-game losing streak, heading into a difficult stretch of their schedule, with games against Orlando, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Indiana and Chicago.
Will Miami put New Jersey on lockdown Tuesday night? Let your thoughts be known in the comment section below.
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