Brooklyn Nets cross border in pursuit of season-ending streak

Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Target 50 needs to get past the border.

Surprise, the Raptors are hot. The Nets' next opponent may have a losing record and may have lost a number of their best players to injury, but they have won two straight, both against the Bulls (thank you!) and four of their last five. They're the latest opponent standing in the way of the Nets drive for 50 wins, which would require them winning the last three games of the season. In fact, the Raptors, Wizards and Pistons have all done some things well lately.

It's the Raptors' athleticism that makes them dangerous. With a line-up of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray, they have top-flight athletes at four of five positions. Gay, Johnson and DeRozan have been particularly effective of late. In the two wins over the Bulls, Gay had 42 points, nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and five steals. Johnson had 37 and 20 while DeRozan had 39 points and shot 14-of-23. Toronto is short-handed, using only eight players on Friday night.

The Nets may be doing some scoreboard watching Saturday afternoon. If they can beat the Raptors and the Knicks can beat the Pacers, the battle for the third seed could get interesting. The Nets must finish the season with a better record than the Pacers since division championships trump any tiebreaker.

"We have to talk about the likelihood of third place and the more realistic likelihood of getting guys healthy and getting ready for whatever it’s going to be," said Deron Williams. Joe Johnson echoed his teammate. "We’re not satisfied," said Johnson. "Hopefully we can move up even higher. We still have work left to be done."

No word yet on the availability of Gerald Wallace, although P.J. Carlesimo seemed to indicate he'd like to rest some of his walking wounded. "We've got to weigh pros and cons," Carlesimo said after the Pacers game, "resting guys and getting guys healthy and seeing what happens with these last three games."

Kris Joseph, a Canadian, is returning to his native land.

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