Two teams and 2.5 games separate the Nets from their last gasp of hope: the right to extend their season by at least four games against the Eastern Conference’s best team.
Okay, so that’s maybe not the best NBA storyline. But it’s what the Nets have to hang their hats on right now, and after a 122-106 victory over his former Minnesota Timberwolves, newest roster member Thaddeus Young knows that they’ve got to make up ground — and fast.
“Any win you can get is a great thing, especially for us as a team,” said Thaddeus Young, who scored 19 points in his return to Minnesota. “It just wasn’t clicking in the second half [of games], but now we’re starting to get together, we’re starting to hit shots and we’re starting to get things rolling.
“Now, we don’t have any time to waste … we’re trying to get back into this playoff hunt.”
Young is in a good spot to voice this opinion — he spent most of the season toiling on the Minnesota Timberwolves, occupants in the Western Conference cellar, and this is his first shot at a playoff run since the 2011-12 season. Young has also averaged an efficient 14.1 points per game since joining the Nets, shooting 52.1 percent from the field and hitting one three-pointer in 11 of the 13 games.
But the Nets don’t have many cakewalks left on their schedule. 11 of their final 17 games are against teams either firmly in the Eastern Conference playoffs or fighting for one of those last spots, including two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks, the two top teams in the East. With that said, it’s not inconceivable to see them make a run — as the season winds down, teams already firmly in the playoffs more often rest their players, which could lead to a few surprise victories.
The odds are slim — recently, I called them close to zero — but close to zero ain’t zero, and salvaging their season to make the playoffs for a third straight year and avoid giving up a lottery pick to the Hawks would be a positive in an otherwise down season.