NEW YORK -- The Miami Heat finally joined the rest of their peers in the playoffs.
Of the other seven teams still alive in the postseason, all have trailed in a series at one time or another. Five of them have already survived a Game 7. All have endured a few doses of self-doubt, at least a few days of criticism and, in some cases, even some booing by the home crowd.
The Heat have lived three weeks outside that reality, happily aware of, but still enjoying, their bubble, going along without a loss or even a hint of adversity.
Almost predictably, it burst on Saturday night when the Brooklyn Nets faced a quasi-elimination game on their home floor and responded by shoving back with a 104-90 victory. No NBA team in history has ever come back from down 0-3 to win a series, so the Nets knew if they didn't win Game 3 they were done.
As for the Heat, well, they figured they'd lose eventually and it would lead to them getting serious. It's sort of standard operating procedure: Since the 2012 NBA Finals, the Heat have followed all eight of their playoff losses with victories.
"It has felt like the playoffs and it hasn't," Chris Bosh said of the past few weeks. "We didn't have that desperation in this game, but usually, a loss will do that and you'll come back with it."
Brooklyn did play with some desperation, getting the sort of excellent shooting and role-player breakouts that most teams can expect in a home game at least once in every series. As is also expected, the word "aggressive" was bandied around afterward, the winners congratulating themselves for being it and the defeated lamenting its absence.
To aid in the escalation toward the series actually gaining legitimacy, there was a little shoving between Ray Allen and Alan Anderson after a minor tangle. LeBron James and Paul Pierce had some postgame barking from across the floor.
"It's a typical playoff game where a team down 0-2 comes and plays very inspired basketball and the team up 2-0 does not match that effort," the Heat's Shane Battier said in his typical way of summing up situations with nice perspective. "That's typical."
There was some expectation this would be an edgy series because of the long history between James and Pierce and Kevin Garnett and because the Nets were 4-0 against Miami during the regular season. Whether it ends up playing out in this fashion likely won't be known until after Monday's Game 4, in which the assumption is the Heat will retaliate and the Nets' true staying power will be revealed.
It seems only then will it be known whether this series will shake the "typical" tag -- typical being just fine with the Heat because they typically win a series. They've won seven consecutive playoff series against Eastern Conference teams over the past four seasons, for example.
Saturday, the Nets took advantage of the Heat's game plan to stick close to the paint on defense by drilling a playoff franchise-record 15 3-pointers on 25 attempts. They were also treated to the best playoff game of Andray Blatche's career, a tidy double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Overall, the Nets' role players outplayed the Heat's, and that was the difference in the game.