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Why the Nets need to make the playoffs

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs are now, for the first time in a long time, within reach.  With 14 games to go, the Nets are one game out of eighth place and playing very good basketball, having won four of their last five and having scored 120 or more points in three of their last five games.

Of the 14 games left, all but three of them will be played within the New York city limits, 10 at Barclays Center and one at Madison Square Garden.  While they face some tough competition down that road, including the two top Eastern Conference teams, they have a number of incentives.

Getting into the playoffs will...

--avoid the horror of seeing their draft pick, the one they must swap with the Hawks, end up in the lottery on May 19.  Swapping the 15th or 16th pick for the 29th or 30th pick would be a lot easier to stomach than watching someone like Karl Anthony Towns or D'Angelo Russell don a Nets cap on Draft Night ... only to see them trade it for one with a Hawks logo seconds later.

--mean that the Nets will still be playing basketball in the NBA's biggest market while the Knicks will have gone fishing. As Brett Yormark told a sports symposium earlier this month, "I want to own this city. That’s critical for us. I think the way you own it is by winning and getting to the playoffs this year."

--be big bonus to the Nets in their attempt to get more local TV rights money from YES. Three straight playoff appearances can't hurt Brooklyn in its negotiations this year. If the Nets get what they want, the increase in local TV rights money will be more than the increase in national TV rights money.  It helps the bottom line too. It's a general rule of thumb that each home playoff game adds a million dollars in profit to a team's coffers.

--help fans forget the long disappointing and controversy-filled season, take the curse off. Making the playoffs could also justify to ownership and management that their strategy of paying big bucks has paid off.  Take that for what it's worth.  Anything beyond a first round exit would be a bonus .

Of course, it's a long three weeks and a skeptic might note that the Nets' last four wins were against two of the NBA's worst teams --the Timberwolves and 76ers-- and two teams that had lost four straight --the Bucks and Pacers.  No one here is predicting a late April date with destiny, but at least for now, anything is possible.

Start your scoreboard watching!