The Brooklyn Nets have just come off their longest and hardest road trip of the season. They’re now faced with their final regular season challenge. Winning their last three games.
Brooklyn faces the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday, April 6, the Indiana Pacers Sunday, both road games, both back-to-back, and then the Miami Heat Wednesday, the last game before the playoffs begin.
Milwaukee is the No. 1-seed in the Eastern Conference. They added an L to Brooklyn’s record Monday night, a decisive 10-point win. With Giannis Antetokounmpo now being crowned as basketball’s new greatest player, the Bucks now also have the best record in the NBA.
Indiana fluctuates between the 4 and 5-seed with the Boston Celtics. Miami is holding on, clutching the 8th seed tightly. The last playoff position in both conferences.
Brooklyn is currently the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re also holding on tightly, and could just as easily be sixth where the Detroit Pistons are. They’re both in contention. With a loss, or losses, the Nets can also wind up eighth, or possibly out of the playoffs, falling to nine.
Nets 6-foot-6 small forward Caris LeVert, who returned from a three month injury in February, sees it this way: “It’s what we worked for all year. It’s what we worked for all summer,” he exclaimed. “We control our own destiny at this point.”
In actuality yes, but also a no. The NBA schedule of the Pistons, the Nets, the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic is also a determining factor.
The Magic hold the ninth spot and are knocking at the door to get in. Their last three games are against the Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics and the Charlotte Hornets. Although it would be foolish to take any team for granted, the Celtics pose the greatest threat to Orlando in the loss column.
Miami ends with four games. The Minnesota Timberwolves, The Toronto Raptors, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Nets. Three of the four on the road. Philly, the Eastern Conference 3-seed, at home. These could be Dwayne Wade’s last games. He’s retiring when his season ends
The Pistons are the greatest threat to Brooklyn advancing back to the sixth seed at this point. Remaining on their schedule is the Oklahoma Thunder, the Hornets, the Memphis Grizzlies and the last place New York Knicks. On paper, only the Thunder, the only playoff bound team facing them, should pose a threat.
“You can’t place pressure on yourself,” LeVert also notes, philosophically, but in reality, the opposition will. These final games played by Brooklyn, Detroit, Miami and Orlando are all meaningful. Multiple losses could mean goodbye to one of them.