The Nets Get Their Heat Check

The Heat come to Brooklyn for the first and last time this season

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Nets get another chance at the champs.

    The defending NBA champions come to Brooklyn on Wednesday night and a member of the Nets says that's no big deal at all. 

    Forward Reggie Evans was asked Wednesday morning how much it would mean to the team to beat the Heat in Miami's only regular season visit. Evans rejected the idea that it would mean much of anything at all. 

    "It doesn't prove nothing," Evans said, via the Daily News. "That was a lockout season."

    While we agree with Evans' belief that this is just one of 82 games, we're going to have to respectfully disagree with his thoughts on the game proving nothing. In sports, how you do against the best matters and the LeBron James show is the best in basketball. 

    You don't even need to reach back to last season for a reason why this game matters a bit more than Orlando's visit on Monday. 

    The Heat have beaten the Nets by 30 and 13 points in the two meetings in Miami already this season and, frankly, neither game seemed that close. The Nets totally wilted under the pressure of the Heat defense, turning the ball over 37 times over the two games and shooting 9-of-49 from three. 

    Deron Williams has been particularly bad, shooting 10-of-26 with 11 turnovers in the two losses and contributing to the defensive effort that allowed Dwyane Wade to go off in the second half of the second loss. The Nets were up nine in that one and completely fell apart, something that the Heat can make happen faster than any other team in the league. 

    So even if you want to point out that it is a Wednesday night in January and that there are plenty of other games to come, the Nets' performance will stand as a gauge of how much improvement they've made since P.J. Carlesimo took over. The record says they've made a lot, but none of it matters if they still can't hang with the best team in the Eastern Conference. 

    The Heat will provide a good test for the defense, especially after the way Wade ripped them up last time out. Brook Lopez isn't going to run into much defensive resistance, so the Nets should be able to play at their pace if they are able to hold onto the ball. 

    That's a gigantic if, which is exactly why this game matters a little bit more than Evans is willing to admit. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.