I don’t mean to alarm anybody, but the Brooklyn Nets (39-39) are in trouble. That is a great statement for this up and coming team. With four games remaining on the NBA schedule, the Nets are only one game ahead of the Orlando Magic for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Yes, the Nets are holding the No. 7 spot right now, but they are teetering on the edge of destruction.
The Nets hold a half game lead over the Miami Heat. They are also a half game behind the Detroit Pistons for the No. 6 seed. Yet, none of the playoff hopefuls have a schedule like the Nets.
Interestingly enough, all four teams vying for the last three playoff spots lost on Monday night. The Nets had their chances against the Milwaukee Bucks. However, they lost, 131-121 in a critical game. Moreover, the Nets were outscored in the waning minutes of the contest. The Pistons lost to the Indiana Pacers, 111-102, while the Heat lost to the Boston Celtics 110-105. Finally, the Magic remained out with a 121-109 defeat to the Toronto Raptors. If you notice anything, it should be that these playoff hopefuls lost to teams already in the field.
Unfortunately for the Nets, they have the most difficult schedule down the stretch. They host the No. 2 seed Raptors on Wednesday. After a couple of days off, the Nets travel to Milwaukee for another date with the Bucks. They have a back to back at the Pacers on Sunday. Their final game is a home date against the Heat. Meaning, they are facing 3 of the top 4 seeds in the Eastern Conference. They are also facing a team that could decide the final seed on the final day of the regular season. As a result, the Nets will either be euphoric about their accomplishment, or devastated about letting this opportunity slip away.
The Nets have already exceeded expectations this season. Head coach Kenny Atkinson has won 11 more games than they did last season. They are on the right path. Remember, the Nets had an uneven start to the season. The Nets were (8-18) on December 5. They had just lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder by two points. Paul George hit a miraculous 3-pointer to win the game. It gave the Nets eight straight losses.
It also gave the Nets the confidence to move forward. They responded with a seven-game winning streak. They Nets kept winning until they were (28-24) approaching the end of January. Once again, the Nets hit a three-game skid. They suffered through another three-game losing streak to fall below .500 for a moment. However, they responded with a four-game winning streak to move to (36-33). That’s been the ebb n flow of their season.
The Nets have had losing streaks of two or more games nine times this season. They’ve won a game after a single loss nine times. Meaning, their ability to bounce back from a loss will be the difference in a playoff spot or a lottery pick. The Nets haven’t spent consecutive games under .500 since mid January. It looks like they can’t afford to go under .500 again. Otherwise, they may be the odd team out by next Wednesday. So far, the Nets have shown what it takes to get the job done. Now, they have to finish it off with stellar play.