Brooklyn Nets Keep On Rolling Towards Playoffs


The Hottest Team in the Eastern Conference Keeps on Winning

Mar 31, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward

Thaddeus Young

(30) drives to the basket past Indiana Pacers forward

Damjan Rudez

(9) during the first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

With last night’s 114-109 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the Brooklyn Nets are currently on a six game winning streak, and have positioned themselves to make the playoffs. Just a few weeks ago, it seemed like the Nets were not going to make the playoffs at all, but strong play of late has put them as the current holders of the seventh seed. Brook Lopez and Deron Williams seem like completely different players post-All Star break, and have propelled the team forward.

The lineup of Williams, Markel Brown, Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young, and Lopez has the perfect balance of experience and athleticism, and is resulting in success. The momentum from peaking at the right time of the season could very well translate to the playoffs, and the Nets may even raise a few eyebrows across the league.

During the last six games spanning the win streak, Lopez has averaged 26.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. The points and blocks aren’t surprising because Lopez has done those feats before when healthy. The amount of boards Lopez has gathered recently is the difference. He has been getting double-doubles of late, and has been dominant in the paint.

Williams has also made his revival and seems like a new player following the All-Star break. In the last six games, D-Will has averaged 9.0 assists per game, and had a couple scoring outbursts against the New York Knicks and Raptors. The PPG doesn’t tell the entire story, as his presence is being felt by the team while he is on the court. Coach Lionel Hollins has also gained trust in him, and now keeps him in during the fourth quarter.

The win streak so far was highlighted by the victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, but even during this positive stretch, there were a few things to point out. In the games against the Indiana Pacers and Knicks, the Nets blew double-digit leads, and barely escaped with wins. They avoided losing to the lowly Knicks via Lopez’s tip-in, and held on late to beat the Raptors on Friday. Blowing leads and not closing out games has been a problem for the Nets this season, and they can still improve on that aspect of the game.

About a month and half ago, it seemed like the Nets were in a salary dump mindset, with GM Billy King trying to trade away Lopez for Reggie Jackson. That trade not happening might have been the best thing to happen to the Nets. Lopez has re-found himself and has scored 30 points five times following the All Star break/trade deadline. Fans know that Lopez can dominate offensively when healthy, and he has proved that again this season.

This offseason will be interesting however, as Lopez is able to opt-out of his contract. Although I would love to see him back next year, I don’t know if he would be willing to come back to the team after it has repeatedly tried to get rid of him. Lopez has exemplified loyalty, by making it clear that he likes the Nets and wants to stay, but management kept trying to trade him away. Other teams out there may also be willing to take a bigger financial risk than the Nets would, and could offer him big money.

The Young acquisition seems to be a steal at this point. King made the no-brainer trade of acquiring Young for Kevin Garnett, and it has paid off for the Nets. Although Garnett’s leadership was important, Young provides the youth and athleticism that KG couldn’t. He impacts this team while he plays and scored a season-high 29 points Friday night against the Raptors, including the dagger.

More from Brooklyn Nets

From being on the outside looking in just a few weeks ago, the Nets are now in place to secure the seventh or eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Playing either the Atlanta Hawks or Cavaliers will be a monumental challenge for this team, but the momentum swing the Nets have could be a factor.

The strong play of Williams and Lopez has given the Nets signs of life during the final games of the regular season and contributed largely to the win streak. The Nets face the Atlanta Hawks tonight at 7:30 PM on the road, and a win here could cement the streak even further.

Next: Are the Nets closer to a title than the Knicks?

More from Empire Writes Back