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Updated look at the Nets' playoff picture

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets gave away two must-win games to team's they are clearly superior to. Both losses to the Pelicans and Bobcats in overtime hurt, as the Nets have now put two and a half games between themselves and the Raptorsand the Bulls, two in the loss column. The team returns home to take on the surging Cavaliers, which will not be an easy victory for the Nets, so every game is as a crucial as the prior.

Here are the Nets' magic numbers before Thursday's slate of games.

Nets magic number to clinch the playoffs: 3

Nets magic number to clinch the seventh seed: 6

Nets magic number to clinch the sixth seed: 8

Nets magic number to clinch the fifth seed: 10

  • The Nets have put themselves in a difficult position to catch the Raptors in the Atlantic Division. The Raptors' loss to the Cavs on Tuesday was a great opportunity for the Nets to cut the difference between the two clubs to one, but the Nets couldn't seize the opportunity. The Nets still are only back two in the loss column with the Raptors having 11 games remaining. However, the Raptors have the second easiest remaining schedule in the Eastern Conference with their opponents having a combined winning percentage of 41%. The Nets will likely loss their tiebreaker with the Raptors, based on conference records, which the Raptors have four games on the Nets.
  • The Bulls are also two and a half ahead of the Nets, two in the loss column, and the Bulls' convincing victory over the Pacers on Tuesday was a big one for them. The Nets need all of the Bulls' competitive opponents to show up—the Hawks, Wizards, and Timberwolves are all coming up—and beat Chicago. That being said, It does seem more and more likely that the Nets will be in Chicago for game one of the playoffs this season.
  • Despite their two deflating losses, the Nets still have a game and a half on the Wizards for the fifth seed. The Nets also have two on the Wizards in the loss column. The Wizards remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of 45%, which is an easy schedule, but not as easy as the Nets schedule, whose opponents have a combined winning percentage of 42%. If it were to come to a tie, the Wizards would overtake the Nets for the fifth seed.

The Nets definitely missed some opportunities early in the week, but still maintains their fifth seed. With their schedule only getting easier as the season progresses, the Nets seem to be getting comfortable in that fifth spot.