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Playoffs? Really?? PLAYOFFS?

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries, spilling drinks, reassigning assistants, embarrassing loss after embarrassing loss, and declining stars, all of which are a part of the lengthy novel that has been the Brooklyn Nets in 2013-2014. However, those chapters seem to closed, at least for now. As of Thursday morning, the Nets have the longest winning streak in the NBA.

2014 seems to be Brooklyn's year. No, really, this team looks like a competitive one. The team has won all four of their games in the new year and look much, much improved. Despite losing Brook Lopez for the rest of the season, Deron Williams for an extended period of time again, and other role players here and there, the Nets have claimed a playoff spot. And, in the poor Eastern Conference, they might not lose it.

To break it down: the Nets are now the eighth seed in the East. They do have only a half-game lead on the Detroit Pistons, but the Pistons have lost six straight. They play the Sixers on Friday, Suns Saturday, and then get six days off before playing the Jazz the following next Friday.

The rest of the basement of the East is all clumped together. Four teams are trailing the Nets by two games, but five of the teams ahead of the Nets are also in striking distance for Brooklyn. The Nets are two-and-a-half games behind the fifth seed Washington Wizards, while they trail the Atlantic Division leading Toronto Raptors by three-and-a-half games. The Raptors and Nets play Saturday night in Toronto, a game with big implications for the Nets, who could use the victory to gain a game closer to the Raptors.

The Nets now have a chance to catch the third seed Atlanta Hawks, too, who are currently four-and-a-half games ahead of the Nets ... and without their best player, Al Horford, for the season.

The Nets schedule doesn't get much easier, but with wins over two of the elite teams in the Western Conference during this recent winning streak, the Thunder and Warriors, they seem like they can compete with any team. They take on the Heat Friday then travel to Toronto for the game against the Raptors. The Nets go to London to take on the Hawks, in front of Mikhail Prokhorov, and then return to the USA to play the equally resurgent Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

The Nets can beat all of these four teams if they continue their fine play of late; their toughest opponent is the Heat, a team they have already defeated, and can continue to make up ground following their poor start.