Going into this NBA season, you might have expected a little more from the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics than their current fourth and fifth place standings, respectively, based on how last season ended for both teams.
You might have expected a slight drop off from the Toronto Raptors, the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed last year after their head coaching change and some personnel moves during the offseason.
It was automatic assessment that the Cleveland Cavaliers would falter with the departure of LeBron James. But after 43 games, more than half of the regular NBA season played, would you expect for the Brooklyn Nets to be in seventh place of the Eastern Conference standings?
With just a few games under .500, Brooklyn has clawed its way up from neighboring with the Chicago Bulls, the New York Knicks and Cleveland, the 13th, 14th and 15th place conference teams, respectively.
Brooklyn ended last season with a 28-54 record, 12th place. They’ve already attained their 20th win earlier this week, three months before the official end of the regular season.
Before their game against the Atlanta Hawks last night (Wednesday), Brooklyn mounted a three-of-four win series, defeating the New Orleans Pelicans at home and the Memphis Grizzlies and Chicago on the road. Brooklyn has won 75 percent of their last 16 games, but with all of their improvements, they’re still a work-in-progress.
Monday’s game against the Celtics, a back-to-back after their Bulls game Sunday, was filled with turnovers, 11 in the first quarter and 25 throughout the game, a season high resulting in a 116-95 Brooklyn loss.
“That was kind of the old Nets,” said Nets’ head coach Kenny Atkinson about his team’s sloppy play in Boston. “That was a big problem of ours last year, and the beginning of this year.”
Toronto, Boston and Houston are next up on Brooklyn’s schedule—tomorrow (Friday) on the road, Monday at home and Wednesday on the road facing marquee NBA players Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving, and again within a week, James Harden. Tall tasks for the new Nets, but tests to find out if they really belong with the top-seeded playoff teams.