Road to the Playoffs
Just ask the Nets who've been away from home for nearly three weeks since hosting the Detroit Pistons. They have the NBA schedule makers to thank for deciding it would be a good idea to dispatch Brooklyn on an uncommon seven game road journey through the league's wild Western Conference.
The Hoops of Flatbush fared just 2-5 on the trip, opening with loses at OKC, Utah, and the Clippers, but responding with winning efforts over the Sacramento Kings and the LeBron Angeles Lakers. However, Brooklyn's run ended there as they'd endure a frustrating loss at Portland, then wrap up with a stinker in their first game back east at Philadelphia. Their most recent loss in turn lowered their record to an even 38-38 with just six games left to play.
The Brooklyn Brigade weren't the only ones treating their team to a hero's welcome, as fans packed Barclays Center to the roof for the Nets first home game since Mar. 11. And the team did not disappoint. The Celtics jumped out to an early lead as the Nets appeared road worn and weary throughout the first half. Yet they somehow sleepwalked to a one-point lead by halftime. It should be noted the Celtics were undermanned and in the midst of a back-to-back games, having hosted the Pacers on Friday, then having to travel to Brooklyn for an early 6 p.m. start on Saturday.
With Boston's Kyrie Irving unavailable and looking on from the bench, Nets all-star D'Angelo Russell scored 20 of his game high 29-points in the third quarter, as the Nets outpaced Boston in the second half by a 61-48 margin en route to a commanding 14-point victory over the present Eastern Conference five seed. Russell also distributed a game-high ten assists.
Caris LeVert played a pivotal roll off the bench with 15 points and four steals in 29 minutes. Joe Harris posted his season average 13-points, and led the floor with eight rebounds (all on the defensive end). The Celtics put themselves in early foul trouble, and Ed Davis, Jarrett Allen, and Caris LeVert all made them pay, joining to shoot a combined 15/20 from the stripe.
With one more victory, the Nets can secure themselves a spot in the upcoming NBA playoffs. However, next on their docket is three games against two of the league's best in the form of Milwaukee and Toronto. In the meantime, the Nets presently occupy the Eastern Conference's seventh spot, one full game ahead of eighth place Miami, and 1.5 games ahead of ninth place Orlando.