The Brooklyn Nets are one game back from the New York Knicks for the lead in the Atlantic Division with 15 games left on the schedule, but what's their shot at winning the division outright? Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com ran 1,000 simulations of the remainder of this season, and found that the Nets won only 198 times -- giving them a 19.8% shot at winning the division. Pelton gives the Knicks a 73.9% chance at winning the division, and the Celtics a 6.3% chance.
From Pelton (Insider):
If the Nets are going to make their first playoff appearance since 2007 as division champions, they'll have to avoid the kind of missteps they've had the last week and a half. Brooklyn's playoff push includes a loss at Philadelphia on March 11 and a home defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. During a three-game span that included a too-close-for-comfort win over the New Orleans Hornets between those losses, the Nets' defense surrendered more than 120 points per 100 possessions.
Pelton also notes Deron Williams's rapid ascension to star-quality point guard hasn't done much to change the Nets overall offense, thanks to Gerald Wallace's rapid descent in the opposite direction since the All-Star break:
Wallace is averaging 7.8 points per 36 minutes (he hasn't been below 13.1 since his third NBA season) and is making 34.7 percent of his 2-point attempts and 14.3 percent of his 3s. With two nonscorers (Keith Bogans and Reggie Evans) already in the rotation, Brooklyn can't afford a third, so Wallace's ability to bounce back could be critical the rest of the way.