Their season looked done, in ruins.
After a disastrous loss to the Capital City Go-Go on Friday night, the Long Island Nets seemed to be on the outside looking in to the Eastern Conference playoffs — permanently. But after some Saturday night heroics by other G League clubs, the Long Island Nets will be headed to the postseason for only the second time in franchise history.
The Nets finished the year 18-15, while the Grand Rapids Gold and Westchester Knicks both entered the night 17-14. each ahead of the Nets in the standings. Because of cancelled G League games at the beginning of the year that were not rescheduled, not every team finished with the same number of games played.
So, the stage was set. Both Westchester and Grand Rapids would have to lose for Long Island to clinch the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks faced off against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, who were two games behind Westchester in the standings. After a close first 18 minutes, the Mad Ants jumped out to a big lead before halftime. They won by 18 points.
The real drama lay with Grand Rapids, who were hosting the College Park Skyhawks on the second half of a back-to-back. The Skyhawks clinched their postseason big with a win on Friday, and were on a 10-game winning streak — but they also had nothing to play for. Their playoff future was sealed, they’d be the five seed.
After a close start to the game, Grand Rapids jumped out to a 15-point lead with eight minutes remaining. College Park slowly chipped away and in the end, overcame the Gold, winning 118-111.
Grand Rapids point guard Trevon Duval had an opportunity to tie the game with an open 3-pointer with 28 seconds on the clock. If he made it, the Nets season would be finished. Ironically, before the G League season started, Duval attended local tryouts for Long Island back on September 25th. Unlike another tryout candidate, Craig Randall II, he didn’t make the training camp roster. Ultimately, Duval’s shot rimmed out, and he was unable to exact revenge on the team that snubbed him.
The Nets were playoff bound.
Long Island will now face the Delaware Blue Coats, the G League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, in the first round in a single-elimination game Tuesday night in Wilmington, Del.
Long Island players, coaches, and members of management celebrated after a tense night of scoreboard watching. Jubilation, disbelief, and pride were the overcoming emotions, they told NetsDaily, that and they’re ready to make a run.