At 40-34, the Brooklyn Nets sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race, 2.5 back from both the Raptors and Chicago Bulls with eight games to play (the Raptors and Bulls both sit at 43-32, with seven games left). All three teams play at home tonight: The Raptors play the second-seeded but struggling Indiana Pacers, the Bulls play the league-worst Milwaukee Bucks, and the Nets host the 27-48 Detroit Pistons in Brooklyn.
The Raptors and Bulls both hold the playoff tiebreaker over the Nets should any of them end up with an identical record. (The one exception: ties automatically go to the division winner, so if the Nets leapfrog the Raptors and win the Atlantic Division, they would then hold the tiebreaker over the Bulls. The Bulls are guaranteed not to win their division.)
All three teams hold the advantage over their opponents tonight (though Indiana has a better record, they’ve struggled in the new year), and if all three win, the only needle that shifts is that the Nets are one game closer to locking in the fifth seed. But a loss for the Nets could be devastating; if they lose and both Toronto and Chicago win, they’ll be effectively 4.5 games back with seven games to play.
The Nets and Pistons tip off at 7:30 P.M. EST.