Following the Nets’ latest loss, this one to the New York Knicks, Brooklyn is teetering on disaster.
Down to their final 20 games, the Nets are barely holding on to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and could very well find themselves having to go through the play-in round just to make the postseason. Brooklyn holds just a game-and-a-half lead over the Miami Heat as they prepare to face the Boston Celtics on Friday.
The Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors aren’t too far behind them either.
It was hard to envision that the Nets would find themselves in this position yet again after the calendar year turned to 2023 and they had just come off their best month ever in franchise history. Brooklyn has been systematically dismantled since then as superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were traded away before the deadline, and the team has struggled to discover its new identity since.
The Nets have struggled on defense at times and their lack of a closer without Irving or Durant has become more and more evident recently. They have dropped six of their last seven since Durant was traded away, ending the superstar era in Brooklyn.
It has all lined up to make the stretch run of the season extremely precarious as they try to keep their heads above water. Orlando, Sacramento, Charlotte and Detroit are the only teams on the Nets’ schedule that aren’t in some sort of playoff positioning.
Even those games aren’t guaranteed wins at this point for the Nets.
“We’re competitors so there is an element of suck to it, where it’s just like, man, we don’t want to go out and lose ever. Like, everybody feels it, everybody feels it deep,” Cam Johnson told reporters after the loss to the Knicks. “We’re sitting on the bench, you can feel that it’s an unsettled feeling because we want to be better, because we know we can do, better because we know we have the talent in our room to be better. But I think that’s just gonna motivate us to attack these days.”
The Nets will need to find something if they hope to avoid falling far enough to have to go through the play-in round, but their schedule down the stretch won’t make that easy.