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Where we stand: So close, yet so far

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Roller coaster. That's the way to describe the Brooklyn Nets now. Brooklyn surged from three games out of the eighth seed in the East to a game back of eighth in the span of seven days. A soft schedule helped, along with the rough patches for the competition, but anyway you slice it, Brooklyn was given new life in the Eastern Conference.

Until Monday night, when they dropped a shot at pulling into the eighth seed by losing to the Boston Celtics.

Here are the standings as of Tuesday morning:

standings

(Image via NBA.com)

The Nets had an opportunity Monday to pull into a tie for eighth place in the loss column, only to get throttled by the Boston, a team that had lost three straight and had collapsed in overtime the night before. Now the Nets are a game-and-half behind Boston, but lost the all-important season series to Brad Stevens' club. Boston now has the tiebreaker on the Nets.

Miami has pulled a bit ahead of the pack, a game-and-a-half up on the eighth seeded Celtics making it a four team race for one spot (unless of course Miami loses their mojo and Milwaukee goes into a death spiral). The Nets are still relevant, kind of, and it has helped that Indiana came back to Earth and Charlotte and Boston have struggled over the past week or so.

Despite how close the Nets are, they are the furthest away. The team's schedule is the second most difficult in the Eastern Conference down the stretch, per Playoffstatus.com, Charlotte is the only team with a more difficult one.  Ten of their final 13 games are against playoff teams and Brooklyn has three back-to-backs left, as you can see here in Kevin O'Connor's schedule of all the playoff contending teams. The DO play 10 of their final games in New York City limits.

The loss to Boston hurts, especially in the fashion the Nets did. Brooklyn played a turn-style type of defense and the only consistent offense they got came from Brook Lopez. Brooklyn is traveling to Charlotte for a match up against the Hornets, who are a half-game out of the postseason, in what will be yet another huge game for the Nets. A loss there could put the Nets two games back of Charlotte in the loss column, and possibly Boston too.

Playoffstatus.com gave the Nets a 19% of making the playoffs, Hollinger's playoff odds say 28.2 before the game Monday night, but now the percentage has went down to 12% to 16%, respectively. It's just a calculation, but the Nets missed another golden opportunity to seize control of their fate and sneak into the playoffs.