After a (relatively) successful March, the Brooklyn Nets will look to kick off the final month of the regular season with a win at home against the Orlando Magic. Brooklyn had its most successful month of the season by notching seven wins after winning just nine games the previous five months. The Nets have just seven games left on the schedule, with two of those contests coming against the Magic.
The Nets are unlikely to match last season’s win total of 21 games. Though the schedule isn’t too rough with two games against the 76ers left, the Nets are destined to have, by far, the worst record in the NBA this season. What is important to note, however, is that the team has improved its locker room morale this season. Despite losing more than four times as many games as they’ve won, the team has held its head high and has stayed competitive despite a talent disadvantage.
Brook Lopez, who has spent his entire career so far as a Net despite being in trade rumors almost every single trade deadline, has been a leader on and off the floor. Jeremy Lin, who has dealt with injuries all year which has cost him over half the season, believes in the future of this team. The young players have all improved. Rookie Caris LeVert appears to be a long-term answer at the wing and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could be the small-ball four in a pace-and-space lineup for Kenny Atkinson.
The Magic have largely underachieved this season due to a mismatched roster and an overloaded frontcourt. The team spent big money in free agency on Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Green but have floundered despite the improvements of Elfrid Payton, who has blossomed into an effective two-way point guard. Aaron Gordon, the team’s top talent, has stalled this season due to a lack of a polished offensive game and a logjam at his position, thanks to the now traded Serge Ibaka. The Magic are currently tied with the Knicks for the fifth-worst record in the NBA and don’t gain much from a win because they are already eliminated from playoff contention.
These last seven games will be useful for the Nets to see what keepers can stick in Kenny Atkinson’s system. While Lin, Lopez, and LeVert figure to be a part of the future in Brooklyn, guys like Spencer Dinwiddie and Quincy Acy are fighting for their jobs.
3 Things to Watch for in Nets-Magic:
This season hasn’t seen the full pick-and-roll combo of Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez unleashed on the league. Lin’s injury woes are the main culprit, but imagine if this team had a full season together! No, they wouldn’t be the eighth-seed in the East, but who knows? We’ll never know, but we have next season to look forward to, so let’s hope that Sean Marks keeps the band together long enough to realize whatever potential it has.
2. Flash Gordon
If Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Trevor Booker avoid an Aaron Gordon poster, then the Nets will avoid national infamy. Given the defensive prowess of the duo, the Nets should be in the clear. In fact, the athleticism of the Nets front court, in conjunction with Acy, should be the perfect anecdote to the Aaron Gordon problem.
3. Something To Win For
The Nets are already the worst team in the league. History will look back at the 2016-17 Nets as significantly worse than the rest of the NBA and that is deserved… to an extent. This team doesn’t own its own draft pick and only had an injury-riddled LeVert to cling any hope to. Yet this team still has a more exciting April to look forward to than the crosstown Knicks, the Magic, and even the 76ers. Though April isn’t kind to bottom-feeding NBA squads, this Nets team is no April Fools.