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Jim Mancari,

Even right after defeating the Orlando Magic Monday night, the Nets were already looking forward to their matchup with the top-seed in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat.

The Heat have won the previous two matchups against the Nets, but Deron Williams said things have changed since that time.

LeBron James

“The first time we played them, they made some adjustments at halftime and kind of ran us out of the building,” he said. “It will be a good test for us. I think we’re a little bit different team than the last two times we played them, but we have to be ready to go.”

The Nets are now 17-0 against teams that are under .500. However, they are just 10-18 against teams .500 or better.

Brooklyn needs to prove that it can defeat tougher competition. The upcoming stretch against the Heat, Bulls and Lakers will be an interesting test to see how far this team has come.

“This is a game we don’t have to worry about coming in with energy,” said Brook Lopez. “I think our guys are definitely going to come out ready to play.”

After the two blowout losses, Monday night’s win against the Magic carries that much more weight, especially with the tough upcoming schedule.

“We needed to get this game,” said Keith Bogans. “We got these next four games coming up that are going to be tough, especially Wednesday. Nothing’s going to be easy. We just have to play the way we are capable of playing.”

But luckily, Nets head coach P.J. Carlesimo said he’s confident that his team can play with anyone if they play their game.

“We have good players,” the coach said. “They rise to the occasion. They’re able to take advantage of the matchup most nights.”

It will not take much for the Nets to rise to the occasion Wednesday night as the host LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.

Jim Mancari is a Contributor to Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.

Tags: Brooklyn, Columns, brook lopez, deron williams, dwyane wade, lebron james, pj carlesimo, nets heat, nets, heat, miami heat, keith bogans, Chris Bosh
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