Brooklyn Nets GM Says His Team Was Built to Challenge the Miami Heat

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 6, 2014

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Billy King admits that he assembled the Brooklyn Nets with beating the Miami Heat in mind.

Stop the presses. Is he serious?

That is brand new information

Oh, it's not? Well, kudos to Brooklyn's general manager for being honest anyway.

Speaking with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio's The Herd (h/t Nets Daily), King was asked point blank if the Nets were built to challenge Miami.

"Yeah, you try to build a team to challenge the champion," he said. "So, yes, I would say we did."


Nothing about the Nets' approach to this season was secretive. From the moment they mortgaged their future through a liquidation of assets and financial flexibility, reticence went out the window.

You don't trade for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett—both of whom are on the wrong side of 35—without the Heat in mind. The Truth and The Big Ticket stopped being superstars a while back. They were brought to Brooklyn for their leadership, for their competitive fire, for their late-game gall. 

For their hatred of Miami.

That last one is important. And again, obvious.

More pointedly, it's working.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25:  Paul Pierce #34 and Kevin Garnett #2 of the Brooklyn Nets look on from the bench in the first half against the Toronto Raptors in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Barclays Cen
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The Nets were 4-0 against the Heat during the regular season. Half of the NBA (15 teams) hasn't beaten the Heat four total times since 2010-11, when LeBron James and Chris Bosh first joined Dwyane Wade. Eleven teams have just two or fewer wins against them.

Yet there the Nets were this past year, squeaking out victory after victory, sweeping the regular-season series, beating them four times in one NBA calendar year. 

Don't say Pierce's arrival had nothing to do with it. He averaged more points (21.3) against the Heat than any other club. And though Garnett played just two of those four games, he had one of his better outings of the season against Miami, going for 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in Brooklyn's Jan. 10 victory.

So, yes, the Nets were built to beat the Heat. The proof is in the regular season, their payroll and, as Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick explains, Pierce's and Garnett's scowls:

The Nets' overall depth and length may be more problematic for Miami than anything in particular that Pierce and Garnett provide, with the latter not even playing during Brooklyn's final two wins in the season series.

Still, whatever they've lost in steps, they've gained in scowls, and those scowls will be a welcome sight to see in Miami, after a sterile first round romp against Charlotte. Even polite Canadians had enough of their antics, gleefully chanting "KG sucks" and "Pierce sucks" until the bitter end, when Pierce blew poison kisses to the crowd. 

Those scowls and "poison kisses" are why the Nets will foot exorbitant luxury-tax bills. They mean more than the regular season now.

The Nets will put their beat-the-Heat dynamic to the test once again in the second round. Game 1 is Tuesday night, and they enter the series cautiously optimistic that past results are a sign of things to come.

But it didn't matter that the Chicago Bulls beat Miami three times in 2010-11. It didn't matter that the Pierce- and Garnett-led Boston Celtics did the same in 2011-12. And it doesn't matter that the Nets unseated Miami four times in 2013-14.

The playoffs are a blank slate. This second-round series is a chance for the Heat to start anew. Their 0-4 record against Brooklyn is irrelevant. The Nets won't win riding their regular-season reputation. They will look to start anew themselves.

"Now, this is the window—this season," King told reporters in October, via's Ohm Youngmisuk.

True to his word, the Nets are playing for now. Not later. Not meaningless regular-season victories. They are playing for this matchup and the hope that their current core can displace the one team they are built to beat.