Once 8-18, the Brooklyn Nets look poised to return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
Currently 7th in the Eastern Conference at 36-33, the Nets have clawed their way back to NBA respectability with grit, determination and defense. After an abysmal start to the season, Head Coach, Kenny Atkinson, preached to his team to “take everything game by game.” The locker-room took the advice, won seven straight and got back into the playoff chase.
It changed on the defensive end of the floor. “Now guys are taking it personal when coach shows them on film getting blown by, stuff like that. Guys are taking is personal. And when you’ve got a rim protector like [Jarret Allen], it’s also key,” Said DeMarre Carroll who is in his second season in a Nets uniform.
The Nets are currently riding a four-game winning streak after beating the Detroit Pistons Monday night, though the remainder of the schedule does them no favors.
“We just want to tighten the screws consistently and get better as a group,” said Spencer Dinwiddie whose play earned him a three-year, $34 million-dollar contract extension earlier this season.
In mid-November, the Nets were dealt a crushing blow when Caris Levert dislocated his foot. At the time of the injury, Levert was averaging 18.4 point a game. Two months later, they lost 17.2 more points a game when Spencer Dinwiddie was sidelined with an injured thumb. With the backcourt destroyed by injuries, D’Angelo Russell re-emerged from the shadows of being an NBA draft bust and has been nothing short of spectacular for the young Brooklyn Nets.
Lost in L.A. during the Black Mamba’s good-bye tour, the former number two overall selection has been a hero averaging a career high 20.4 points while handing out nearly seven assists a night.
With the Nets healthy and back to full strength, basketball fans in New York City are clamoring for the opportunity to watch playoff basketball. Though it won’t be easy. Eleven of their final thirteen games come against teams, that if the season were to end today, would qualify for the playoffs.
Will Brooklyn take care of business, or tease us with an over the jeans thigh rub?