The Eastern Conference refuses to let the Brooklyn Nets (29-40) die.
While the Nets dropped an ugly 110-91 loss at home to the Boston Celtics Monday night, the other teams chasing Eastern playoff berths did their equal part: The Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets, and Miami Heat all lost over the past two nights. As per usual this season, the Nets failed to come through in a pivotal game, with poor execution and a lack of focus for long stretches of the game. The Nets defense had zero answers for the Celtics’ offensive attack to go along with their own poor display, shooting just 36 percent, including a mere 1-of-17 from behind the arc.
One of Brooklyn’s last “statement” losses came exactly three weeks ago against tonight’s opponent, the Charlotte Hornets. On March 4th, following an impressive five-game road trip after the All-Star break and a thrilling win at home against the Golden State Warriors to begin a five game homestand, the Nets laid an egg at home, losing to the Hornets in uninspired fashion thanks in part to a 35-15 first quarter deficit. The Hornets were without starting point guard Kemba Walker, but shot 49.4 percent from the field, including 8-for-19 from three-point range. Gerald Henderson and Al Jefferson led the Hornets with 19 points, and Mo Williams notched 14 points and 14 assists filling in for Walker. The Nets proceeded to lose the remaining three games on the homestand, and it looked bleak for their playoff odds. Yet here we are.
The Nets’ last visit to Charlotte, back on December 13th, was a huge success: a 114-87 romp which saw the Nets shoot 58.3 percent, including a scorching 16-for-23 from three-point range. Deron Williams, who fell one rebound short of his first career triple-double on Monday, tallied 18 points and 10 assists. A win for the Nets tonight would give them a 2-1 edge in the series, a key tiebreaker for playoff implications.
After tonight, the Nets play nine of their final 12 games at home. Great, right? Nope. The Nets are the only team in the NBA with a worse home record (12-20) than road record (17-20). LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers should pack Barclays Center with fans on Friday night, and whether the Nets can feed off the energy is a different story.
Game note: Brook Lopez needs just one block to become the second player in Nets history with 700 blocks. George Johnson tallied 863 in only three seasons from 1977-80.
What to watch for: Could Bojan Bogdanovic bounce back? Confidence seems to be an integral factor in Bogdanovic’s second half success. After playing the best four-game stretch of the season (17.8 points per game, 63.8 percent shooting), Bogdanovic couldn’t buy a bucket on Monday, missing numerous wide-open shots and finished the game hitting only three of 14 shots.
Tip-off is at 7:00 P.M. EDT at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC.