Nets forward Joe Harris wipes his face on his jersey...

Nets forward Joe Harris wipes his face on his jersey in the second half of an NBA game against the Cavaliers at Barclays Center on Thursday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

MIAMI — It was loud. It was crazy. And, sadly enough, it was the apex of the Nets’ roller coaster season.

The last time the Nets and the Heat played here on Jan. 8, the Nets had won 17 of their last 19 and were in second place in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game behind the Boston Celtics.

Kevin Durant had gone to the locker room in the third quarter after injuring his knee, but the Nets had kept it close and trailed by one with just 5.1 seconds left when Kyrie Irving rose up to attempt a three-pointer. His shot bounced off the back of the rim, was grabbed by Royce O’Neal who scored with 3.2 seconds left to give the Nets a 102-101 win.

“It was crazy,” O’Neal remembered Saturday before the Nets played the Heat for the third and final meeting of the season. “I just see Ky shoot the ball and I just crashed and I was in the right place at the right time and we got the win.”

That win, for all practical purposes, would be the end of the Irving-Durant era. Durant, who would be diagnosed with a sprained MCL the next day, wouldn't play another game in a Nets uniform as a month later both he and Irving would be traded.

The Nets team that walked into what was recently re-named Miami-Dade Arena Saturday night has little resemblance to that team given that it starts four players — Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney Smith — who were on other rosters at that time. And, instead of trying to overtake the Celtics for the top spot in the East, the Nets found themselves fighting the Heat for the sixth and final guaranteed playoff spot as they entered Saturday’s contest in seventh place a half-game behind sixth-place Miami.

Nic Claxton, the only starter in both of the games, was asked at Saturday’s morning shoot around if he couldn’t help but think how much had changed for him and the team since he last played here.

“Yeah. I mean, that's just like human nature; sometimes you think about how things were a few months ago," Claxton said. "But can't dwell on that; you just have to stay in the present. That's just a part of life. That's a part of basketball. We're here now and we're in this position, so we’ve got to come out and get this win tonight.”

Yes, they do. The Nets (39-34) are suffering their worst losing streak of the season at the worst possible time. The Nets entered the day having lost five straight.

Thursday’s loss to Cleveland had to rank as the toughest of those five losses, considering the Cavaliers (are No. 4 in the East standings and the Nets had an eight-point lead with 1:53 left in the game and committed three turnovers in the final 1:18.

Bridges said Saturday morning that the team understands how important the game against Miami is and that he was not worried about the team's moral.

“I feel like the moral is always fine,” he said. “The locker room is the last thing we worry about. It’s just like everyone is competitive. You just get frustrated when we lose. The moral never changed in the locker room. It’s like everyone is all together and we all care about each other.”

The Heat also had plenty to play for as they entered the game having won four of their last five, putting them in a position to possibly catch the fifth-place Knicks.

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