Miami — There’s an old adage about losing the same game twice.
After losing to the Cavaliers at Heartbreaker on Thursday, the Nets can’t afford to beat the still-bruised Hart again when they face the Heat on Saturday.
And it doesn’t take long to straighten out.
The Nets (39-34) lost their worst skid of the season, picking the most important stretch of the season.
They lost five very important games in a row against the Heat, the Eastern Conference’s sixth team that leads the Nets at half a game.
A win would send the Nets back to the sixth and final guaranteed playoff spot.
When they lose, they sink deeper into play-ins.
“Yeah, it’s a big game. Clearly there’s an impact on both sides,” said Joe Harris. “But the other nine games are big. Obviously, the emphasis is on this game against Miami, but the emphasis will be on all the opponents we face.”
The Nets were championship contenders just six weeks ago, sitting fifth in the East on March 13, before falling head over heels in a dreaded play-in.
Not only did they fall behind the No. 5 Knicks, they trailed the Heat by three games in just 11 days and bottomed out in a 116-114 loss to Cleveland on Thursday.
At least the Nets hope this is the bottom.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Harris said. “But overall we are clearly aware of where we are on the table and the importance of every match here. [Head coach Jacque Vaughn] This was a tough loss for us, but it was great.
“I felt like I had to win. [Thursday], and controlled the game for most of the 48 minutes. Everyone feels it because you have a painful loss. But at the same time, we have big games coming up in Miami and Orlando. So the focus has shifted there…and hopefully you hit the road and take advantage of two good opportunities. “
Playing in Orlando on Sunday, the Nets looked depressed after a crushing loss on Thursday, so there was no time for self-pity.
“Every match is a must now. … So try to get those two in a row,” said Lois O’Neill.
“that is [Vaughn] I’m talking about,” Harris said. “Like I said, this was a tough loss for us, but he’s trying to prepare for Miami and change his focus. to do, and so on.”
Given how we lost on Thursday, it can be difficult to prepare emotionally rather than tactically.
The Nets led by 10 points in the fourth quarter and had an 8-point cushion with 1:52 remaining, but a 12-2 run allowed the Cavaliers to close out the game.
“It’s an emotionally taxing game when you don’t come out as a winner and you have the ball at 20. [seconds] And then they’re going to have to foul us,” Vaughan said. Would you like to learn what you can transfer?
“Can we take a lesson from this game if we keep the ball moving like we had a lot of possessions in the fourth round? [quarter], a second group that finds identity and plays well on both sides of the floor.We have done a lot of good things [Thursday], you can grab those things, but you can also emotionally reload and play another game. “
O’Neal was one of those players who spoke up in the locker room and tried to keep morale up. It’s essential on Saturday, which is essentially a must-win game.
“We just have to take [this]learning from the end of the game and learning what we can do better as a team,” said Michal Bridges.
Seth Curry will be out Saturday for personal reasons.
The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report revealed multiple blown calls at the end of the Nets’ loss to the Cavaliers, both against the Nets.
Nic Claxton was whistled for a foul on Caris LeVert with 1:52 remaining, but reports ruled it was an accidental contact that should not have sent the net ahead to the line. I sank the throw.
Then, when Donovan Mitchell hit an aggressive rebound with 11.6 seconds left and Okoro hit a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left, the Cavaliers star actually committed a lane violation, as the Nets thought at the time. The report showed that he had committed a crime.
Miami’s Kyle Lowry and Caleb Martin are in doubt if they’ll play Saturday due to left knee injuries.