It all unraveled very fast for the Brooklyn Nets. About a week ago, it seemed like the Nets were on their way to a playoff spot, playing some of their best basketball of the season and facing a somewhat favorable schedule through the beginning of March. However, three straight losses—all coming in different fashion—later and the Nets are in trouble.
Brooklyn is two-and-half games out of the eighth seed heading into Monday's action and needs help from several teams.
The Nets have fallen way off over the past week. The Hornets, behind Mo Williams, are playing arguably their best ball of the season and are expected to get back their lead guard Kemba Walker in the next several days. Charlotte has the seventh seed at the moment but are tied with Indiana. The Pacers have also been playing great basketball since February. The team had the best record over the month of February and are slated to get back their leader, Paul George, in March. If PG-13 can return to a similar version of his 2013-2014 self, the Pacers may be making another trip back to the postseason.
Those are the two teams "in" right now, but other teams are at their heels. Miami is tied with Indiana as of Monday, but have been banged up all season long and have already lost Chris Bosh for the remainder of the year. However, it's tough to rule out a Dwyane Wade team that just acquired Goran Dragic. Miami won't go away quietly. (It does appear that the Nets will catch a break Wednesday when they play the Heat. Hassan Whiteside, the season's savior, is likely to be suspended for his hit on Kelly Olynyk.)
After that comes Boston, a team that Brad Stevens refuses to let tank, despite Danny Ainge's efforts. Boston is quick and young and seem to be a tough-out every time they hit the floor. They will be an intriguing team to watch over the next month and change. The Celtics have a half-game advantage on Brooklyn, but have played one more game.
So, those are the teams ahead, or tied with the Nets. Hollinger's Playoff Odds gives Brooklyn a 17% chance of making the playoffs. Playoffstatus.com is a bit more grim, giving the team a 16% chance. It's not over yet, though but the odds don't lie, it is going to be tough. They play 21 more games this season, but their schedule isn't going to make it easy for Brooklyn. Sixteen of their remaining opponents are in playoff contention (the Celtics being the team farthest from the playoffs). The key game this week comes Wednesday in Miami. The Nets must beat the teams in front of them and their first shot at it comes against the Heat. The Nets lost their first three contests against the reigning Eastern Conference champs.
Brooklyn is going to need to show more than they have over the past week or so if they want to make a run to the playoffs. It's not going to be easy, but as a one former Net used to say...