It’s an ugly truth: the recent five-game skid has all but eliminated Brooklyn’s chances of making the playoffs for the first time since the team moved to the borough.
After the team’s shocking win over the Golden State Warriors, there was some hope. But now the doom-and-gloom Brooklyn Nets sit at 25-38, with three more road contests on their last multi-game trip of the season. Two are against the 76ers and Timberwolves, lottery-bound teams that have beaten the Nets in Brooklyn already this season. The third is against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have won 23 of their last 28 games.
The road ahead isn’t much easier. The Nets play ten of their last 15 games at home, but they’re only 11-19 at Barclays Center this season, and seven of those home games come against Eastern Conference playoff teams. “We obviously are not a good home team,” coach Lionel Hollins said after the team’s loss Tuesday night.
They also play road games against the surging Indiana Pacers and the Eastern Conference-best Atlanta Hawks.
The projection odds tell the same story. ESPN’s Hollinger playoff odds put the Nets at just above a 30 percent chance of making the playoffs prior to the team’s losing streak — low, but not insurmountable. Now they’re down to just about seven percent, with a projected 33-49 record. TeamRankings is even worse, giving the Nets a shot under five percent, and alleging it would be a “miracle” for the Nets to finish even 36-46 — which was the preseason projection by ESPN’s SCHOENE system.
The Nets, who have trailed over 75 percent of the time in the last five games, sound resigned to their fate.
“I don’t know,” Joe Johnson said after their most recent loss, a 104-98 defeat at the hands of the Miami Heat in which the Nets did not hold a lead in the last 42 minutes. “We just can’t win a game. … That’s pretty much it.”
Lionel Hollins had a similar tone after the team’s Tuesday night loss, a 111-91 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans. “When you’re in a dog fight and you don’t make easy plays, your will gets dampered,” Hollins said.
“I wish I had an answer for all y’all questions,” Deron Williams told reporters earlier this week. “I wish I had an answer for why we’re struggling, for why we go up and down, why I can’t shoot. I don’t got no answers. I got nothing man, I wish I did. That’s going to be my saying for the rest, ‘I got nothing.'”
The Nets aren’t technically eliminated yet, and sure, anything is possible. But after this latest cold streak, the window of opportunity is only open a sliver.