You can’t deny the fact that the Nets started off their monstrous road trip on the right foot. The team destroyed the hapless Detroit Pistons 119-82 on Monday night and were in Dallas Wednesday night.
Clearly, the Pistons are among the worst teams in the league, but the Nets can’t afford to drop a game against a beatable team, especially with only one game separating them from the Knicks. Things will begin to get tighter as the Nets play Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Denver and Utah over the next nine days. And if anyone thinks any of those games will be easy, think again. Those five teams have a combined home record of 118-48. Denver was 30-3 at home through Monday, while the Jazz were 24-9.
Last week, we referred to this “circus” road trip as crunch time. After Monday’s game, the Nets moved to 39-28 and were just two games ahead of Atlanta and 2.5 games in front of Chicago and Boston. A bad stretch on this road trip could drop the Nets from third into the seventh spot.
Are we being a little overdramatic? Perhaps, but there’s no question the Nets would like to have home court advantage for the first round. Being in the sixth or seventh spot means the squad is likely to be on the road for the duration of the playoffs.
Are the Nets ready for this run? Joe Johnson is healthy, and Deron Williams has been playing the best basketball of his season. He had 31 points against Detroit on Monday.
The Nets won’t be back in town until Thursday, April 4, when they host the Bulls in a nationally televised game on TNT. The question is, will they be the team that left town with the third seed or a struggling squad sitting in sixth or seventh place in the east?