The Brooklyn Nets sit on top of the Eastern Conference with a 42-20 record, and with the win, last night against the Toronto Raptors, became the first team this season to secure a playoff spot.
There are still ten games left in the season, which could play a crucial role for the Nets as they get ready for the playoffs.
The East has its first playoff team.
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— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) April 28, 2021
The team’s biggest question has been health, and it looks like it will continue to be the biggest x-factor for this team. There is still no timeline for a James Harden return, but there is still a little over two weeks for him to get healthy before the end of the season. Kevin Durant has played two solid games since coming off of his thigh injury and will most likely play with a minute’s restriction and sit back-to-backs for the rest of the season. Kyrie Irving has missed some time here and there, but nothing major, and let’s hope it stays that way. It is possible with Irving’s injury history; he might also sit some games with a playoff spot officially clinched.
Role players such as Bruce Brown, out with knee soreness, and Nicolas Claxton, out with health and safety protocols, are the two big named role players who are sitting out at the moment. They should be coming back shortly and ready for when their name is called when the playoffs start.
The only positive to come out of the big threes injuries this season has been it allowed the role players to step into their own. The role players showed off all their experience with the big three out in last night’s 116-103 victory over the Raptors. Even though a victory over the 26-36 Raptors isn’t something to write home about, the way they won was a good sign for the playoffs.
The role players won this game, with Irving only scoring 9 points shooting 3 of 13. Durant was a lot more efficient but only took seven shots to score 17 points. The team was led by Jeff Green, scoring 22 points, Blake Griffin scoring 17, and Joe Harris with 16.
In a playoff series, the opposing team will for sure focus on Durant, Harden, and Irving on defense, but when your role players can step up like this, that will cause a lot of problems and lead to postseason success. Because of the Nets’ injures, it has allowed players to get more opportunities to show what they can do and be helpful in a Championship push.
With the Nets only holding just a 1.5 game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers for the number one seed, there could be a lot of value in these last ten games. The Nets should try to get the number one seed, as that might give them the easier road to the Eastern Conference Finals, not having to play the 76ers of the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs.
Getting the first seed might allow the Nets to experiment more in the first round of the playoffs, to figure out how Durant, Harden, and Irving will play together since they could not do that in the regular season.
If Hardens isn’t healthy for round one, facing an easier opponent in the eighth seed could allow Harden more time to heal up and come back fresh in the second round.
However, it will not be an easy road to holding that spot, as the Nets have to play the Bucks twice in Milwaukee, along with two away games against the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets. These games against top-tier NBA teams could prove difficult, but the Nets can still pull off wins as they did against the Phonix Suns on Sunday.
If the Nets could at least win six out of the ten games, they could secure that top seed, therefore securing the easier road to the NBA Finals.
As the Nets NBA season winds down, we look towards the playoffs and the possible success this team could have.
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