In a season mired in the uncertainty of Brooklyn Nets trade talk, peaks and valleys, various injuries, and multiple accusations of selfishness following the hope that the Nets would implement a flex system[note]Remember that?[/note], it seems fitting that the Nets’ fate would come down to the last day.
If you’re not caught up on recent events, it’s simple: for the Nets to make the playoffs, they have to beat the Orlando Magic tonight, and the Pacers have to lose to the Grizzlies. That’s it. There’s no other way for the Nets to gain the eighth seed, as they’re one game back on the Pacers and luckily own the tiebreaker against them.
But that’s it for the Nets. The season ends today. If the Pacers win, they’re out. If the Nets lose, they’re out.
There’s no telling what might happen in Pacers-Grizzlies. The Pacers just beat the Washington Wizards in a double-overtime slugfest where the two teams combined to shoot 77-for-209 (36.8 percent) from the field, and flew to Memphis for tonight’s game. But the Grizzlies are already without Mike Conley (foot) and Tony Allen (hamstring), and Marc Gasol’s minutes might be limited (ankle).
The Grizzlies also have homecourt advantage to play for,[note]The weird rule: the Portland Trail Blazers are locked into a top-four seed, since they won the Northwest Division. But since the Grizzlies have a better record, they’ll have home-court advantage in the first round as a fifth seed.[/note] unless the Houston Rockets (playing the Utah Jazz) and the San Antonio Spurs (playing the New Orleans Pelicans) both win. That locks the Grizzlies into the sixth seed. Both of those games should end around halftime of Grizzlies-Pacers, and if the Grizzlies learn they’re locked into seeding, Dave Joerger could elect to rest his players for the playoffs.
Nets-Magic kicks off at 8:00 P.M EDT, not on YES Network. Here’s where to watch. Rockets-Jazz and Spurs-Pelicans also both start at 8:00, and Pacers-Grizzlies kicks off at 9:30.
So what you’re hoping for, in chronological order: a Nets win (necessary), a Rockets AND Spurs win (helpful), and a Pacers loss (necessary).
Only one thing’s for sure: we’ll know for sure if the Nets make the playoffs for the third straight year by the time the night is over.