After Sunday's action, playoff seeding in the East is taking shape. Unless Indiana comes out of his zombie-like death trance, Miami looks like the overall No. 1 seed. Charlotte has a chance to move into sixth, having closed to within a game of Washington. Whoever wins there will likely face division-leading Toronto..The Nets and Bulls seem destined to replay last season's first round battle and the Hawks are all but a lock to beat out the Knicks for eighth.
After Knicks fans regaled Nets fans with "Brooklyn Sucks" chants last week, it's now virtually certain they'll have the longer summer, two games back of the Hawks with four to play and a tiebreaker to contend with.
So, with 10 days left in the regular season, how do things look for the Nets? First of all, they're healthy. With the exception of Brook Lopez, everyone appears ready. On Saturday night, the Nets had 14 players ready for action, the first time in three months. Kevin Garnett (back spasms) and Andrei Kirilenko (ankle) looked good in their returns and the players who replaced them, Mason Plumlee and Alan Anderson, got some needed minutes down the stretch.
They've also won the respect of other teams in the mix.
"They’re a good team," Chris Bosh told Tim Bontemps. "We expected them to do that. We know how it is, coming together and struggling to get the chemistry right. But once you get it right and figure out what you’re doing, they’re pros, and so we expect a tough fight, and we owe them." The Nets, in fact, have beaten the Heat five straight times, twice in preseason and three times in regular season classics.
Some still doubt the Nets, as Howard Megdal writes in Sports on Earth, noting that the back pages and web pages in New York have been filled with the blood-letting in Manhattan rather than the slow, methodical success of the Nets since January 1, with the best record in the East and the longest home winning streak. Not to mention Jason Kidd's increasing confidence. As Megdal notes of the Pistons game, the Nets 15th straight win at home, "The New York Times didn't send their beat reporter, and the Nets were bumped from YES for the Yankee debut of Masahiro Tanaka"
Still, Megdal notes "Are you really so sure you want to bet against Pierce and Garnett, not required this time to carry the bulk of the scoring load, Williams, no longer forced to do everything himself, and Joe Johnson, who is healthy now and has made the buzzer-beater into an art form?"
Kidd was asked that same basic question after the 76ers game Saturday night. "I don’t know, we’ll find out," Kidd replied. Indeed, we will.
- Heat know Nets have their number with trio of wins this season - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Garnett's role looms large as Nets great unknown - Mitch Abramson - New York Daily News
Even With Garnett Back, Nets Need Blatche To Step Up In Playoffs - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN
- The Nets belong in the playoff conversation. - Howard Megdal - Sports on Earth
- Garnett Will Stick to a Plan to Avoid Any Set-'Back' - Lenn Robbins - Brooklyn Nets