The Nets second half is going to be the most intriguing, most crucial —and most televised— in franchise history as Brooklyn tries to get to the NBA Finals and the first championship parade down Flatbush Avenue since 1955.
Released Wednesday, the Nets schedule features 20 games on national TV, only one fewer than the league-leading Lakers. Star power. Overall, the Nets will have seven games on ESPN, five on TNT, two on ABC and six on NBA TV. The Nets have put up big numbers so far on national TV, being the league’s third most popular team according to ratings data. Better yet, they’ve only lost one game when on national TV.
Things open up on March 11 at Barclays Center —no longer without fans— with a rematch of Christmas Day vs. the Celtics. It’ll be on TNT. Then, less than two weeks later, they will face the West’s best, the Utah Jazz, on March 24, on ESPN. The Nets blew out the Jazz on January 5, the last time Kyrie Irving played before he took his personal leave and a week before the Nets acquired James Harden.
LeBron James and the Lakers will be in town on April 10 —also on ESPN. The Nets have beaten the Angelenos two straight, but both came at Staples Center under trying circumstances —the last game before the league was shuttered by the pandemic— and the second was without Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn side and Anthony Davis on the L.A. side.
There will be big conference games as well. On April 14, the Nets and 76ers will play in Philadelphia on ESPN. The two teams have split their first two games. The reigning Eastern Conference champs, the Heat, will host the Nets in South Beach four days later. And yes, it will be on ESPN, too. The Celtics will in Brooklyn on April 23 (yes, on ESPN) but alas, there will be no Kyrie revenge game in front of Boston boo-birds this season.
Did someone say revenge games? How about two games coming up vs. the Rockets, one at the end of the first half on March 3 in Houston, then in Brooklyn on March 31? The first will be carried by ESPN, the second by YES.
The Nets, who only played the Knicks once in first half, will play the Knicks at home on March 15 and April 5. The first will be on ESPN, the second on NBA TV. The Knicks, in case you’re wondering, will be on national TV 12 times, six on ESPN, six on NBA TV.
There will be seven back-to-backs, the most difficult coming early in the second half on another West Coast road trip, March 23 in Portland and the Jazz game the next night. That’s also just before the March 25 trade deadline, adding to the pressure.
And the toughest stretch? That’d have to be the two weeks near the season’s end, between April 25 and May 8. As Alex Schiffer of The Athletic points out, the Nets will play Phoenix, Indiana, Toronto twice, Portland, Milwaukee twice, Dallas and Denver — all current playoff teams.
And at the end of the season, the Nets will face two teams that may be fighting for playoff spots, the Bulls twice on May 11 and May 15 and the Spurs on May 12. The Nets close out the season on May 16 vs. the Cavaliers at Barclays Center.
As for tickets and fan experience, we’re going to have to play that by ear.
- Nets second-half schedule: key games, toughest stretch, more - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York