The risks were clearly stated. Each team had 34 losses going into Saturday night's game between the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat.
Whoever triumphed would be in control of the Eastern Conference's sixth seed and the chance to just barely avoid the play-in tournament.
Brooklyn's recent performance was less than ideal, which was another issue. In addition to being crucial for the standings, a win for the Nets was also necessary to snap a five-game
losing streak that would have ended in their previous encounter except for a tragic Cleveland Cavs last-second shot. Brooklyn's trip to Miami was its toughest yet.
may have been their first experience with playoff-level intensity since they were brought together at the trade deadline less than two months ago.
The Nets won by 129-100, their largest margin of victory over the Miami Heat, courtesy to a dominant second half. That was a terrific strategy to stop losing.
The host team's aggressive jump shooting initially gave the impression that the Nets would be ran out of Miami-Dade Arena without much of a struggle. In the first half,
the Heat connected on nine of their 15 3-point tries and a few long-range shots as well. It didn't matter whether the shot was off-the-dribble, open, or contestable.
The Nets struggled defensively. Brooklyn struggled against pick-and-rolls and missed Miami's off-ball shooters in tight games.