Brooklyn Nets 1st Team Ever to Sweep LeBron James in Regular Season

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 9, 2014

Apr 8, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) pumps his fist next to Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Nets won 88-87. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Either Brooklyn Nets rookie center Mason Plumlee made the defensive play of the year or four-time MVP LeBron James got burned by a swallowed whistle.

The court of public opinion hasn't yet settled on a verdict, but it doesn't need to. The game has already been tallied in the NBA's official standings.

Plumlee denied James at the rim with two seconds left, no foul call was made and the Nets escaped South Beach with an 88-87 win over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat Tuesday night. With the win, Brooklyn became the first team to score a four-game season-series sweep over a King James-led team, according to Elias Sports Bureau (via SportsCenter's Twitter account):

Granted, this has been as close as a one-sided series can get.

Three of Brooklyn's wins have been decided by a single point. The other needed a pair of overtime periods to determine a winner.

"Every single one of these games, however you want to slice it, however you get to that point, there are plays to be made in the fourth quarter," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. "And for whatever reason, they've made more plays."

None of those crunch-time plays will get more run through the highlight reel nor generate more buzz from the talking heads than Plumlee's debated block.

Plumlee definitely got ball but also got some of James' wrist. The refs didn't see it as a foul, and the rookie big man agreed with that assessment:

James, naturally, didn't see things the same way:

Whether it was a great play or a missed call is moot. The record already shows a winner.

It also seems to paint Brooklyn as a potential playoff thorn in Miami's side. Had the Heat escaped with a one-point win, I'm not sure that narrative would have changed.

"They've definitely had our number. That's obvious," James said, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

If the current standings hold, the Heat would claim the Eastern Conference's top seed, while the Nets would enter the postseason at No. 5. Miami would open with the Atlanta Hawks, and the Nets would draw the Chicago Bulls.

If both of these teams won their first-round matchup, they'd square off again in the conference semifinals. It's hard to say how much, if any, of Brooklyn's regular-season success would carry over to that series.

"Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn't," CBS Sports' Matt Moore wrote. "But [the Heat] haven't beaten the Nets since [Paul] Pierce and [Kevin] Garnett joined the team."

Frank Franklin II

The Nets aren't scared of the Heat. That seems fairly obvious.

Miami still has the edge in talent, and perhaps talent will ultimately prevail. But Brooklyn won't go down without a fight.

On-paper advantages only go so far. There's a reason they still play the games.

Anything is possible in this league. When the best player on the planet challenges an unheralded rookie and loses that battle, that point couldn't be made any clearer.