What was once a stellar season for the Long Island Nets seems to be coming apart at the end. With three more games to go in the G League season, the Nets have dropped six-straight games and have now fallen out of the playoff picture.
Some of the losses have been close. Some, like Saturday night’s 139-119 romp by the Greensboro Swarm, have not. The loss wasn’t entirely Long Island’s fault. The Swarm, the G League affiliate team of the Charlotte Hornets, connected on 15 of their 29 total 3-point attempts, a staggeringly high number.
In the NBA (and the G League), high-variance shooting games happen. A team like Greensboro will get hot and there is little that can be done. But what is so poignant about a loss like last night is the fact that Long Island needed the win at all. Not to mention that the Swarm had lost 14 of their last 16 games entering Saturday night.
Just a few weeks ago, the Nets were solidified in the fifth seed in the East, just a game or two back from the top of the conference. They have now fallen to seventh with a week to go in the regular season and no longer control their destiny.
Sunday’s game still showcased some individual positive performances from the Nets, most notably Brooklyn rookie Day’Ron Sharpe. Sharpe has averaged 19.3 points and 15.1 rebounds in a six-game stretch with Long Island, solidifying himself as a young interior presence. He has also extended his range to behind the 3-point arc recently, nailing seven of 21 attempts from deep.
David Duke Jr. hasn’t found his range since returning from an ankle injury, but with 13 points in Greensboro has now scored double-digits in back-to-back games since returning from injury. Craig Randall II, back from missing two straight games for personal reasons, had 21 points and added five three’s to his league lead.
Here’s game highlights from Saturday night...
Hope isn’t all lost for a postseason berth for the Nets. At 16-14, they’re a half game back (one more loss) of the 16-13 College Park Skyhawks for the final postseason spot. College Park is peaking at the right time, with seven straight victories, while Long Island is cratering at the finish line. The Skyhawks play four more times to close the year, and will need to lose two more games than the Nets, since Atlanta’s G League affiliate holds the head-to-head tiebreaker between the squads.
The Skyhawks’ final two games of the year are against the Grand Rapids Gold, the Denver Nuggets’ affiliate, who is just ahead of the Nets and Skyhawks in the standings at 16-12. Since Long Island holds that tiebreaker, the same principle applies: Grand Rapids needs two more losses than the Nets in the final week of the season for Long Island to clinch the postseason.
A playoff appearance would only be Long Island’s second-ever in franchise history, and would mean the world to every staff member in Nassau Coliseum. The G League Nets are back at home on Tuesday, March 29 against the Windy City Bulls looking to make a run in their final week of the season. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and airs on NBAGLeague.com and the YES App.