For the first time in four months, November 28, not one of the pundits who compile power rankings put the Nets at No. 30!
In fact, three of them rank the Nets in the upper 20’s!
The Celtics should be rooting for the Lakers right now, because L.A. might need one more win to avoid getting caught in the standings by Brooklyn and reducing Boston's odds at getting the No. 1 pick in the Draft. The Nets are 7-8 (with above-average marks in both offensive and defensive efficiency) in March, have won three of their last four games, and have one of the league's easiest remaining schedules. As they get a look at Archie Goodwin and K.J. McDaniels down the stretch, both have made contributions off a bench that ranks 11th in aggregate NetRtg this month.
On the same night brother Robin Lopez was tangling with Serge Ibaka in a scuffle that featured clear punches if not clear-cut connections, Brook Lopez was sinking his first career buzzer-beater to seal a 98-96 win over Detroit that was only getting the Nets' big week started. Comfortable victories over the Suns and Hawks would soon follow to nudge the Nets to a record of 7-8 this month. These same Nets, you'll recall, went 4-37 from December through February. The Cavs, in case you're wondering, are 6-8 in March. It's no coincidence, of course, that Jeremy Lin has been available for first-year coach Kenny Atkinson pretty all month, which makes Brooklyn so much more functional. The Nets are 9-19 with Lin in uniform ... and 7-38 without him. (File this away for your calendars: The Lopez twins turn 29 Saturday.)
You know, if it weren't for the lack of talent, or assets, or consistency, or discipline, or hope, this team really wouldn't be half-bad. They play hard and have good execution. I love what Kenny Atkinson has done this season.
hey have seven wins in March and have now won back-to-back games this season. The wins may keep on coming, the Nets have a relatively easy schedule the rest of the way. Relax Celtics fans, they are still going to have the worst record in the NBA for the season, but the wins speak both a little to health and some to the culture coach Kenny Atkinson is starting to build.
The Nets just won multiple games in a row for the first time all season and have seven—count ‘em—seven wins in March, which is enough to move them out of the basement as the Lakers bumble aimlessly into retaining their lottery pick and the Suns enter their name into the Markelle Fultz sweepstakes. Brooklyn, of course, does not have their own pick this year, creating existential ennui that’s hung over the entire season from a viewer’s perspective. But amid a pack of crappy teams that are hurting their own draft odds with each victory, it’s worth noting the actual positives for the Nets that don’t come at the expense of ping pong ball combinations. Wow, that might be the nicest thing anyone’s said about this team all year.
If the Brooklyn Nets owned their own first round pick in this year’s draft, we’d be wondering what’s gotten into them. Unfortunately, the Nets have no reason to tank despite their massive five-game lead on the Lakers for the worst record in the league, so their recent uptick in wins is a welcome development.
Beating the youngest starting lineup in NBA history that Phoenix trotted out isn’t particularly impressive, but Brooklyn left no room for doubt in a 28-point beatdown. A double-digit loss to the Wizards made sense, but downing the Hawks by 15 — punctuated by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson‘s dunk — made for a fun week.
The Brooklyn Nets have nothing to play for—no playoff spot to chase, no draft position to improve.
But they do have Brook Lopez, which matters more than many might think. The 7-footer has turned into a one-man wrecking crew of late, scoring at least 23 points in six of his last seven games and sinking the Detroit Pistons with the first buzzer-beater of his career.
"The [idea] is to keep playing tough, not quit and have no slippage," Lopez said, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. "You want to build a foundation and get things right so we have continuity going into next year."
Having Lopez fight the good fight keeps the Nets from encountering nightly disasters. (Seriously, their second-highest scorer, Jeremy Lin, averages 13.7 points and has played 26 games.) But the non-Lopez talent isn't there to escape the cellar.