The Brooklyn Nets took an L Tuesday night, 121 to 95, against the Philadelphia 76ers, a team currently enjoying an 11-game win streak, a team that’s been exactly where the Brooklyn Nets are now, the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Philly finished last season at 28 and 54, 10 and 72 the year before, and 18 and 64 the year before that. They even created a slogan to support the years of losses, “Trust the Process.” Coaches such as Kenny Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks of the Nets are aware of Philadelphia’s story.
After acquiring several key draft picks, e.g., Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and after several trades and acquisitions, e.g., JJ Redick, Philly has ascended this season to fourth place in the NBA standings behind the Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Philly had their process, but what will ascend Brooklyn, currently 25 and 53, 13th place, from years along the lower rung?
“We’ve been pushing to get over the hump,” said Atkinson after a well-balanced scoring road win over the Orlando Magic last week. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who’s contributed greatly to this team during the season, describes it as “inching” over it. And there have been signs.
Against Orlando, seven Nets players, their five starters and two players off the bench, hit in double figures, ending their latest losing streak. They then beat the Miami Heat, a 6-seed to 8-seed playoff team, 110 to 109 in an overtime, down to the last second battle.
“When everyone is making an effort to do what they do best, we’re a good team,” said Nets guard D’Angelo Russell after dropping 16 points, 12 assists and a double-double several days after an 18-point, 13-assists, 11-rebounds, triple double performance against the Toronto Raptors, the leader of the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn has four games to go before their season ends, three on the road and one at home, the Milwaukee Bucks tonight (Thursday) and the Chicago Bulls Saturday (road games). The Bulls then play at Barclays Monday night, Brooklyn’s last home game, Fan Appreciation Night. They then travel to Boston to play their last game of the season, Wednesday, against the Celtics.