Brooklyn Nets Playoff Fate No Longer In Their Own Hands


The Brooklyn Nets looked to be virtual locks for the NBA Playoffs just about a week ago. They were feeling good after a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, and were clicking at the right time. Fast forward to today, the final day of the regular season, the Nets are not only not guaranteed a playoff spot, they do not even control their own destiny anymore.

That is because the Nets main competition, the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics, have ripped off winning streaks. No matter how unlikely they may have been, as the Celtics locked up the seventh seed winning their last five games, and the Pacers climbed back into contention winning six in a row, they got the job done. The Nets on the other hand have done the exact opposite.

Not only have the Nets not won much recently, losing four of six since their six game winning streak, they haven’t even been competitive in games. In two games that they needed to win to make the postseason, the Nets essentially no-showed, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks by 23 on Sunday and followed that up with another wretched performance against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, losing by 27.

Those deficits are ugly, and disappointing for the Nets. They put together such strong performances at the end of March and beginning of April to put themselves right into the playoff picture only to throw it all away when it matters most.

Deron Williams has disappeared in the last four games, shooting 24.4 percent over that span. That comes right after a stretch of games that people were saying that Williams was back and would make the Nets dangerous in the playoffs. That same Williams is as much a reason for the recent torpedoing of the Nets as anyone, as he has crumbled when the Nets needed him most.

He is not the only one to blame, as Joe Johnson looks to have taken an early vacation to the season, as he has been nowhere to be found in April. In eight games in the month, Johnson is shooting an unsightly 40.3 percent, 28.6 percent from deep for only 10.1 points. In the early going they were winning in spite of him; now the Nets seem to have taken on his lackadaisical attitude and are playing their way out of the playoffs.

The Nets’ ‘Big 3’ has looked like a ‘Big 1’ more often than not recently, as the work of Brook Lopez needs to be commended. Lopez, whose injury concerns are well documented, as appeared in 51 consecutive games for the Nets, a number that will reach 52 when he starts tonight’s must win game against the Orlando Magic and that he hasn’t reached since the 2012-13 season.

Lopez has come to play everyday, and is easily the biggest, and possibly only reason, the Nets are even in this position. The Nets, if you remember, were ready to ship Lopez out to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a package that would have returned Reggie Jackson. If the finish to the season for the Detroit Pistons is any indication, it is very fair to say the Nets would be far from a playoff spot without Lopez and Jackson instead in the lineup.

Williams and Johnson were both vocal after the blowout loss against the Bulls, offering some interesting quotes. Williams essentially accused the Nets of being selfish, saying, “We’ve struggled against the really solid defensive teams where they load up, and we haven’t moved the ball. You can’t just play one pick-and-roll and a shot against a team like this.

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Johnson has already called out the team for being selfish once this season, but he didn’t do that this time. Instead he had little to offer as to why the Nets came out the way they did in games they needed to win, saying, “I can’t explain it. I don’t even know how it’s possible, with this being a very important game, so I really don’t know.”

Johnson and his teammates better figure things out, and quick. They will have one more chance at making the postseason this evening when they play against the Magic. The Nets need to handle business if they have any chance at moving onto the NBA’s second season, and then hope for some help.

The only way the Nets can advance is winning themselves and then the Pacers losing when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies. Coming off of a double-overtime game, there is a very real chance the Pacers lose that game.

The Nets playoff chances aren’t dead yet, but they are definitely on life support. Not having their fate rest on their hands isn’t the ideal route to the postseason, but it is the path the Nets have placed themselves on with their recept ineptitude on the court.

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

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