Dwayne Wade, Receding hairline and Koopa Trooper take on Nets: Game 5 Viewing post

spill the tea, hunty!

MIAMI — With time running out in close games, the Miami Heat have a tendency of putting away the opposition.

The Heat are focused on retaining leads and finishing off opponents in close playoff games. They do so with solid execution on both ends of the floor.

But that hasn't always been the case. Three seasons ago in the NBA Finals, the Heat struggled against the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter with the outcome uncertain.

In the final three games of the series, the Heat had a lead with less than six minutes and failed to keep it.

Dallas prospered in last-game situations, and Miami — in its first season with Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade together — sputtered.

"The one thing we took from that is that we weren't the team that we needed to be yet," Wade said before the Eastern Conference semifinals series vs. the Brooklyn Nets started. "We were still individuals trying to come together."

That dichotomy — one team knowing what to do at the end and one team finding its way — is on display in this series, which the Heat lead leads 3-1.

In the Nets' first season with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, their end-of-game execution is too inconsistent to win a conference semifinals series. They simply haven't played enough of these games together for guys to feel more comfortable in those situations.

Miami can end Brooklyn's season in Game 5 Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, TNT), and if the Nets want to extend their season, their fourth-quarter execution must be better.

In Miami's Game 2 and 4 victories, the Nets were either within two points or tied with less than six minutes to play but had too many empty possessions and allowed too many Heat baskets.

"We just have to stay patient, just have to stay disciplined," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "Again, sometimes, you get a wide-open shot, and basketball can be cruel. You made those shots for the first three quarters, and then you miss in the fourth."

In the final 6 minutes, 50 seconds of Game 2, the Nets shot 1-for-7 from the field while the Heat went 6-for-11, including 3-for-4 on threes, outscoring Brooklyn 15-5 for a 94-82 victory. In Game 4 on Monday, the Nets and Heat were tied at 92 with 3:55 remaining. But the Nets connected on just 1-for-8 from the field and were outscored 10-4.

"It's anybody's ball game when the score is tied," Kidd said. "It comes to one possession. ... (Monday) night we couldn't get a basket, and we couldn't get a stop when we needed to."

On one particular Heat possession, James said he knew how a play would finish once his shooting option was denied by Kevin Garnett. He passed the ball to the Mario Chalmers, who threw it to Chris Bosh in the corner for a three-pointer. James said he didn't know if Bosh would make the three — he did, for a 97-94 Heat lead — but he knew Bosh would get the ball for a shot.

In contrast, the Nets used similar words to describe to their late-game performance as the Heat in the Finals three years ago.

Didn't get the best shots, Williams said. Offense was too stagnant, Shaun Livingston said.

The Nets put the ball in Johnson's hands a couple of times, but those possessions ended with too much one-on-one and not enough ball movement.

In the Nets' Game 3 victory against the Heat, the Nets were great in the fourth quarter. Crisp, rapid passing led to good shots, and the Nets shots 60% in the final quarter.

"I thought Joe had good looks; they just didn't go down," Kidd said. "That's part of the game."

In the Nets' Game 3 victory against the Heat, the Nets were great in the fourth quarter. Crisp, rapid passing led to good shots, and the Nets shots 60% in the final quarter.

"We just have to continue to be patient and stay disciplined and keep our trust," Kidd said. "That's who we have been, and I don't see that changing."