January 17, 2020

Spencer Dinwiddie scores 32 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets over the Boston Celtics, 112-107; Irving and LeVert are still out

Again, no Kyrie Irving and no Caris LeVert and to recap, LeVert is out with a sprained thumb and Irving with a shoulder impingement. And, Brooklyn Nets “back up” guard Spencer Dinwiddie, says, no problem. With a game-high 32 points (10-of-19 FG, 6-of-8 3FG, 6-of-6 FT) and a season-high-tying 11 assists, five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in 35 minutes, Dinwiddie led all scorers and with some help from his Nets teammates, defeated the Boston Celtics 112-107. The Nets have won three straight home games and five of its last six games at Barclays Center. The Nets improved to 10-9 this season with yesterday’s victory, while the Celtics fell to 13-5 with the loss.

Wire-to-wire, the Brooklyn Nets were locked in.

Coach Speak: Brad Stevens on How The Brooklyn Nets Defeated the Boston Celtics

“That start of the game really hurt us,” remarked Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “I thought Brooklyn was more ready probably than we were, and they really punched us in the mouth. They scored 22 points in the first six minutes. Any day that you let a team get going like that it’s probably going to be a long day. Brooklyn did a great job, played really well, played really hard, played with a lot of purpose, and deserved to win. Our guys stayed in it and tried to give the effort to get back, but we dug ourselves too big of a hole.”

Coach Speak: Kenny Atkinson on the Brooklyn Nets' Physicality

“I thought physically we were really, really good,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about his team matching Boston’s physicality. “I think that’s what kept us in the game or getting the lead, I think it was our physical presence. I thought from the tip, we were ready, and we sustained it too. They came on real strong at the end. Obviously, they went super small, but they’re still strong, fast, and have really good athletes. I felt like DeAndre (Jordan) really helped us. There was a stretch there where he was just grabbing every board and kind of clearing everybody out. I think that was huge too.”

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Speaking of DeAndre Jordan, on his first game back after missing two games with left ankle soreness, he came off the bench and posted his ninth game of double-digit rebounds this season with 11 boards to go along with eight points, an assist and a block in 23 minutes. Other Brooklyn Nets scoring leaders were Taurean Prince who posted 16 points, and four rebounds; Jarrett Allen registered 14 points and a game-high-tying 11 rebounds, in 25 minutes; both Joe Harris and Garrett Temple each recorded 12 points, Harris added six rebounds, four assists, and two steals to his total, while Temple chipped in seven assists, and five rebounds.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens had complimentary things to say about Nets center Jarrett Allen, “he’s a good player. He’s impacted the game in a lot of ways. He’s elevated himself into one of the better “bigs” in the east. He played like it today. I thought he was really good. I think we started three of the four halves we played in the last couple of days with a Jarrett Allen dunk. That’s not a good way to start from the Celtic’s side of view.”

Boston Celtics Scoring Leaders

The Celtics’ scoring leaders were Jayson Tatum, who scored 26 points, nine rebounds, and four rebounds; Kemba Walker recorded 17 points and six assists; Marcus Smart added 15 points; Brad Wanamaker registered 11 points, eight rebounds, and three assists, and; Enes Kanter chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

What's Next for the Celtics and the Nets?

The Boston Celtics will stay in New York and travel across the East River to play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden tomorrow, Sunday, December 1, 2019, at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Also, on Sunday, the Brooklyn Nets will remain at home and host the Miami Heat at the Barclays Center at 3:00 p.m. ET.

 

Kyrie Irving’s 3-pointer and Spencer Dinwiddie’s two free throws in closing minutes seal Brooklyn Nets 113-109 win over the New York Knicks

The Brooklyn Nets' second game of the NBA season is now on the books, with a 113-109 win against their crosstown rival, the New York Knicks. From last season until now, this is the Nets’ third straight victory over the Knicks. The Nets are now, 1-1 overall this season, while the Knicks are 0-2.

For the second consecutive home game this season, the Nets had a lead in the closing minutes and lost it. However, this time, they pulled themselves from the jaws of another NBA game loss. At the start of the fourth quarter, Brooklyn was leading the New York Knicks 94-83. However, starting early in the fourth stanza, the Knicks and Nets would play a cat and mouse game. The Knicks would chip away at the Nets’ lead and the Nets would regain it back. At 7:02 before the horn, the Nets were leading by 10, and at 5:16, there were only three points separating the Nets and the Knicks. Then the pendulum shift occurred at 3:41 in the fourth quarter, the Nets were down by three points, 109-106 and Knicks fans were on their feet cheering loudly.

Just under three minutes later, Irving hit a pullup jump shot at 59.6 seconds, bringing the Nets to 109-108, closer, but no cigar. Twenty seconds later at 39.2 seconds, Knicks forward Marcus Morris misses a 24-foot step-back shot, Nets center Jarrett Allen gets the rebound, and at 22.4, Irving hits a 26 ft. 3-point step-back shot to bring the Nets a two-point lead at 111-109. Kevin Knox, who is starting his second year with the Knicks, fouls with 8.9 seconds on the clock and Spencer Dinwiddie goes to the line and hits 2 for 2 widening the Nets lead by four with the score now 113-109. Wayne Ellington loses the ball and Irving steals it with .3 seconds on the clock and that sealed the win for the Brooklyn Nets.

VIDEO: Kyrie Irving talks about the final moments leading up to Brooklyn Nets’ win, his relationship with RJ Barrett, and the 82-game NBA schedule

 

Kyrie Irving led all scorers Friday night with 26 points (8-of-19 FG, 8-of-8 FT) along with a game-high-tying five assists, two rebounds, and three steals in 31 minutes. Irving has now totaled 76 points in his first two games as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, marking the most points tallied through the first two games of a season by a Nets’ player all-time, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The previous high was 66 points held by Brooklynite, Stephon Marbury. And, in case you forgot or don’t know, Marbury accomplished that feat for the New Jersey Nets 20 years ago during the 1999-00 season. Now, here we are, it’s the 2019-20 NBA season and the script has been flipped. We have Irving, a Jersey guy, leading that same NBA team now residing in Brooklyn.

Irving seems to revel in clutch moments, as evidenced by opening night, Friday night, and during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ championship series. Irving truly is an elite point guard. Simultaneously, he clearly sees the floor, understands the pace of the game, and controls the pace to the best of his abilities. Tasks all point guards should do, but not all can.

“The game was slowed down probably in the third and fourth quarter a little bit with just the ways the fouls were going back and forth,” Irving said. “Fouls here and there and bonus, so we just wanted to play through it…it’s just opportunities for us to get better from those empty possessions that we had.”

Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson on the Game and his Players

Of course, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was delighted that his team got the win.

“Sometimes you have got to find a way and I thought our defensive effort was good,” Coach Atkinson said he told his team after the game. “Take the third quarter out, I thought overall our defense was much, much better.”

Spencer Dinwiddie scored 20 points off the bench, shooting 5-of-12 from the field and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line, with a game-high-tying five assists and one block in 27 minutes. Joe Harris recorded 13 points (5-of-8 FG, 3-of-5 3FG) with four rebounds in 31 minutes. Caris LeVert added 12 points and Taurean Prince chipped in 11 points.

LeVert is arguably the Brooklyn Nets second-best shooter so there was some head-scratching as to why LeVert only played 24 minutes as opposed to 30 minutes or more and particularly, down the stretch.

“I just felt comfortable with Spencer (Dinwiddie), more from a defensive standpoint,” Coach Atkinson told the media. “I thought Spencer was one of our better defenders. Just felt it…we went with our gut.”

New York Knicks Scoring Leaders

The Knicks had six players to score in double digits. Allonzo Trier scored a team-high 22 points and three rebounds off the bench; RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox II each had 16 points, Knox as part of the 2nd Unit, and Barrett, a member of the starting five, added three rebounds to his tally; Julius Randle tallied 14 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists; Marcus Morris added 11 points, and; Elfrid Payton contributed 10 points and four rebounds.

Knicks Head Coach David Fizdale

In the loss, New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale lauded his team’s fight and ability to hang on to make it a close finish.

“We have grit," Fizdale said about his team’s competitive spirit. “We have grit. We just have to put it together with consistent play and trust.”

But what made it a really close call for the Nets towards the end, is when Fizdale decided to put Wayne Ellington in the game. Ellington used to play for the Nets before being traded to the Miami Heat. And, Ellington was a 3-point assassin when he played for the Nets, and he displayed his talents last night, scoring nine points in 11 minutes on 3-of-4 shooting. Ellington had two other opportunities to score, but prior to getting off a shot, he turned the ball over. Perhaps, had Fizdale brought Ellington into the game earlier, maybe there would have been a different outcome.

What's Next?

Like the Nets, there are 80 more games on the schedule for the New York Knicks. Perhaps, they will get a win against the Boston Celtics at their home opener tonight, Saturday, October 26, 2019, at Madison Square Garden, at 7:30 p.m.

The Brooklyn Nets’ next game is in Memphis against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, October 27, 2019, and then they will be back at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, to take on the Indiana Pacers at 7:30 p.m.

 

TIP-INS:

By the Numbers: How The Nets Defeated the New York Knicks

• The Nets led the Knicks 32-23 at the end of the first quarter
• Brooklyn led New York 94-83 through three quarters 
• The Nets outrebounded the Knicks 46-39
• Brooklyn edged New York 21-13 in fast-break points
• The Nets shot 10-of-12 from the FT line. Brooklyn attempted that many free throws in an opening period just once, all last season. When? On January 25, 2019, against the Knicks (also 10-of-12).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

With the Brooklyn Nets new player composition, the Nets are on the map, and the competition is expected to be fierce

The NBA released its 2019-20 schedule of NBA games today, and the Brooklyn Nets followed showcasing their highly anticipated schedule. As one who has been regularly covering the Brooklyn Nets since its inaugural 2012-13 season in Brooklyn, I can tell you the first home game of the season at the Barclays Center is always thrilling. There’s electricity in the air, as excited diehard Nets fans are back to root for their team. However, if you follow NBA news, you know this season is going to be different. You will want to be at the Barclays Center when the Nets first game of the season tips off against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, October 23rd, at Barclays Center.

And, if you’re asking why, go have a seat. Seriously, this will be the night that the Brooklyn Nets unveils its new roster to the public, which includes the long-awaited introduction of new players Kevin Durant (although Durant won’t be playing), Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan, as well as, returning fan favorites: Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Rodions Kurucs, Caris LeVert, Dzanan Musa, and Theo Pinson.

The Timberwolves will feature its standouts Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and former Nets players Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier should be in the house, as they now play for the Timberwolves.

Over the course of the season, fans are going to be paying attention to see if Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson will be able to work his player development magic on 2019 NBA draftees Nicolas Claxton and Jaylen Hands, in addition to weaving into the Nets system new players Deng Adel, Wilson Chandler, Henry Ellenson, David Nwaba, Taurean Prince, and Garrett Temple.

Want to see Zion Williamson, the NBA’s 2019 No.1 Draft Pick, in Brooklyn? The Nets play his team, the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, November 4, 2019. It will be Williamson’s first NBA game in New York City during the regular NBA season.

If going out during the week isn’t your thing, you’re in luck because 18 of Brooklyn’s 41 home games will be played on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. And, if you’re good with arithmetic, you know that’s just under half of the home game schedule.

The Nets will also host five-afternoon matches, including a 3 p.m. game versus the Philadelphia 76ers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 20, 2020.

Want to see the Nets’ first home game against 2019 NBA playoff foe, the Philadelphia 76ers featuring Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons? You can check them out on Sunday, December 5, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. Former Boston Celtics player, Al Horford, is now with the Sixers, so this offers a matchup between him and ex-Boston teammate and new Nets signee, Kyrie Irving.

A couch potato, or a Nets fan living in another city, you’re in luck. The Nets did so well last season, they will be featured on national television 20 times this season, six games on ESPN, six contests on TNT, and eight games on NBA TV.

If you prefer radio, Brooklyn Nets games will broadcast regionally on the YES Network for the 18th consecutive season and on WFAN radio for the 16th consecutive season.

The Nets will play two season-long four-game homestands this season, with the first beginning Tuesday, January 7, versus Oklahoma City and ending Tuesday, January 14, versus Utah, and the second spanning from Wednesday, March 18, versus Washington through Wednesday, March 25, versus the L.A. Clippers. The month of January will feature a season-high 10 home contests.

Brooklyn’s longest stint away from the Barclays Center will come in November, when they embark on a nine-day, five-game road trip, beginning on Friday, November 8, at Portland and concluding in Chicago on Saturday, November 16.

The team’s schedule also includes 11 back-to-back sets. And, you know how players hate back-to-back games.

You can see the full Nets schedule here.

With the player moves that Nets general manager Sean Marks made over the summer, this Nets season is highly anticipated. Expect games to be sold out, so don’t wait until the last minute, get your tickets as soon as possible. This Brooklyn Nets season is going to be lit!

Kyrie Irving, a 6-Time NBA All-Star and NBA Champion, is officially a member of the Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets have signed free agent guard Kyrie Irving. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

“Kyrie is one of the NBA’s elite guards and has won at the highest level,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks. “His championship pedigree, coupled with his gifted scoring and playmaking abilities, will make him an outstanding addition to our team. We’re very excited to welcome Kyrie and his family to Brooklyn.”

“The entire coaching staff is excited to have the opportunity to coach a player of Kyrie’s caliber,” said Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson. “He is as talented and accomplished as any point guard in our game and we are enthusiastic about integrating him and our other new roster additions into our returning core.”

Irving (6’3, 195) joins the Nets after spending the last two seasons (2017-19) with the Boston Celtics and six seasons prior (2011-17) with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He earned All-NBA Second Team honors for his play during the 2018-19 campaign, when the 27-year-old averaged 23.8 points, a career-high 5.0 rebounds, a career-high 6.9 assists and a career-high-tying 1.5 steals, in 33.0 minutes per game in 67 appearances (all starts).

Over eight seasons with Boston and Cleveland, Irving has appeared in and started 508 career games, recording averages of 22.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists and, 1.3 steals in 33.8 minutes per contest while shooting 46.5 percent from the field, 39.0 percent from 3-point range and 87.5 percent from the free-throw line. He has also appeared in and started 61 career playoff games over four postseason appearances, averaging 23.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and, 1.5 steals in 36.4 minutes per game. The six-time NBA All-Star (2013-15, 2017-19) helped lead Cleveland to its first NBA title in 2016, registering postseason averages of 25.2 points (47.5 percent from the field, 44.0 percent from 3-point range), 3.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and, 1.7 steals in 36.9 minutes per game. He also won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as a member of the U.S. men’s national team.

Irving earned All-NBA Third Team honors following his 2014-15 season in Cleveland and was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2011-12 following his debut season with the Cavs. Prior to being selected by Cleveland with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the New Jersey native played one collegiate season (2010-11) at Duke.

Best Playoff Atmosphere ever for Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center; Nets played with urgency, but lack of experience got in the Way of Nets Advancement

Just like the Philadelphia 76ers last season was a young and inexperienced team and couldn’t advance as far as they would have liked in the NBA Playoffs, the Brooklyn Nets are finding themselves in a similar predicament. The Nets took Game 1 of this first-round NBA Playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers and lost Games 2, 3, and 4. This is not uncharacteristic for a young NBA team. They made a ton of mistakes like other young teams primarily because of lack of experience. Yesterday, the lack of experience was glaring. The Nets played 3.5 quarters in stellar fashion and looked like they were on the brink of tying the series by winning Game 4. We should be going to Philadelphia with a 2-2 series. However, between 4:11 and 2:09 of the fourth quarter, the Nets turned the ball over four times and the Sixers took advantage of those mistakes, just like the Boston Celtics took advantage of the Philadelphia 76er’s mistakes last season.

Similarly, if the Nets can’t win Game 5 in Philadelphia, it will be a wrap for them this season, but not a lost season. In the last two seasons, the Nets only managed to win 20 and 27 games. This season, the Nets won 42 games and made it to the playoffs and for all tense and purposes did not get swept. The Brooklyn Nets were able to accomplish this feat because the new management under Sean Marks is focused on player development and culture, and to a man, the team is all in. And, Sean Marks has been able to do this with no top draft picks and a first-time coach in Kenny Atkinson. The Nets have taken in guys who many considered to be castaways and because of the culture surrounding the Nets, they have managed to shine quickly.

Last season, Spencer Dinwiddie was selected to participate in the NBA All-Star Skills Challenge. This season, Joe Harris beat out Stephen Curry and won the NBA All-Star 3-Point Shooting Contest, and D’Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft was cast out of the Los Angeles Lakers by Magic Johnson in 2017. This season, Russell participated in the NBA All-Star Game 2019 and lately is the talk of the “NBA Town” and looked upon by some as the leader of the Nets team. As the regular NBA season was winding down and Russell was tearing up the scoreboard, the “Brooklyn Brigade/Block” consistently chanted, “Thank You, Magic.”

At the end of the day, the Nets should not feel ashamed about this season. It’s their lack of experience, not heart, that is putting them behind the eight ball.

At the end of yesterday’s playoff game against Philadelphia, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson summed up the outcome: “I think a little bit of our experience, (a) little bit of their length and activity. I think it’s one of their strengths and I thought we got a little out of sorts, had a few turnovers that we didn’t need. We also had a bunch of good looks. I thought we had a bunch of good looks, and they didn’t go down.”

So, what did yesterday’s box score tell us about the Brooklyn Nets top scorers?

Caris LeVert, who was among the Nets starting five in Game 4, scored a team-high 25 points with five rebounds, a team-high-tying six assists and a steal in 42 minutes. D’Angelo Russell posted 21 points, seven rebounds, a team-high-tying six assists, two steals and a block in 37 minutes. Jarrett Allen also recorded 21 points and added a team-high eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 32 minutes to his point total. A good game for Allen by the numbers; he recorded his fifth-career game of 20+ points and his first in the postseason. He also turns 21 today. Spencer Dinwiddie totaled 18 points (7-of-12 FG) with four rebounds and a steal in 27 minutes off the bench. Joe Harris, who is usually the Nets best 3-point shooter was 0-for-6 from the 3-point line but chipped in 10 points, six rebounds, and two steals.

How are Nets players feeling about last night’s game, going back to Philadelphia for Game 5, and down 3-1?

“There’s a disappointment losing any game – whether it be home or on the road – especially, when you’re up, five minutes left to go in the game,” Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert responded. “That’s disappointing in itself. But obviously, with the great crowd, we had tonight, we like to protect our home court. So, it was frustrating. But we’ve got another game.”

D’Angelo Russell sounding a bit more optimistic is looking forward to Game 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“You see two teams out there hungry, trying to compete,’ Russell said. “They sure as hell don’t want to lose to the Brooklyn Nets, and I think we’ve got a chance to beat the Sixers, so it’s just a high-intensity game and that’s what it’s going to look like. It’s going to be hard for all. Bodies are going to be flying. Give each other what we want.”

And, Russell has a game plan, particularly adjusting to Joel Embiid down low clogging the lane.

“I think that’s part of the game plan,” Russell continued. “When these big guys are clogging the lane like that, we’re able to throw over the top and get in and kick it out. When there’s three guys in there, it works in our favor. Like I said, we’ll look at the film, see where the help’s coming from, see where their scouting help is coming from and we capitalize on that. Simple as that.”

In the loss, Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell leads Nets in scoring with 27 points, seven rebounds, and six assists

It wasn’t a blowout last night at the Barclays Center when the Brooklyn Nets lost 115-105 to the Toronto Raptors, the second-best team in the NBA Eastern Conference. Some say a loss is a loss no matter what the point spread is. But, in this case, when you’re fighting to clinch a spot in the playoffs, a loss can be more than a loss.

With the loss, the Nets fell to 39-40 overall and 22-18 at the Barclays Center, while the Raptors improved to 56-23 overall and 25-14 on the road with the win. But, moreover, the musical chairs of who’s in the NBA playoff seeding and who isn’t shifted last night and is likely to be a game of musical chairs over the remaining week. The Nets are still in the seventh spot, but the Miami Heat's loss to the Boston Celtics put the Orlando Magic in the eighth spot, while Miami fell to the ninth position.

So, what happened to the Nets last night.

“They were the better team,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I don’t know how else to tell you that. I think they were the better team tonight – from start to finish, gotta give credit. Excellent team. A team that’s going to compete for a championship. We were not up to that. Like I said before the game, those standards, you’ve got to be almost perfect. We weren’t. I would say we were average, and that’s not getting it done against a team like that.”

Toronto is the better team, hence the reason they are in the second position in the Eastern Conference. The Milwaukee Bucks are a better team, hence the reason, it is first in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Nets have no experience of turning it up in the final stretch of the regular season. And, they are traveling to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and then will travel to play the Indiana Pacers the very next day on Sunday. So, should we expect an upset in Milwaukee or in Indiana or both or two losses for the Nets? The best scenario for the Nets to make the playoffs is that since Miami is in the ninth position that Miami loses to Toronto on Sunday and Philadelphia on Tuesday and when Miami comes to Brooklyn on Wednesday, it would be too tired on the second game of a back-to-back to be victorious over Brooklyn. Of the three games on the Orlando Magic’s schedule, only the Boston Celtics are worrisome because the Magic could overtake Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets. But, of course, anything could happen.

The Nets really do have to turn it up because last night, the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Toronto Raptors despite shooting .477 (41-of-86) from the field and limiting Toronto to .419 (44-of-105) from the field. The Nets also edged the Raptors 60-48 in points in the paint.

With the Toronto Raptors in the rearview mirror and as the Net face the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, a question was posed to Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell: What can the Nets do against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo on Saturday?

“Just you know, make him feel us,” Russell responded. “He’s dominated the league this whole season. It’s a tough matchup. But we know what we gotta do. It’s going to take five of us to stop him, it’s not just (one) individual.”

Nets fans hear you, D’Angelo Russell, and they hope that you and the rest of the team can muster up a strategy and the energy to follow the strategy to prevail.

The Brooklyn Nets will play its final game of the regular season on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. Hopefully, it won’t be the last game of the season and this team that has faced so many adversities this season gets a taste of what the NBA postseason is all about.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers with 28 points, Caris LeVert put up 24 points off the bench, but the loss is a cloud hanging over Nets’ head

Last night at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets met up with the Milwaukee Bucks, the best team in the NBA, by its 58-20 record; yes, the Bucks’ record is better than the Golden State Warriors’ record, which is 52-24.

The bad news is that the Nets lost to the Bucks 131-121. The good news for the moment is that the Nets are still holding on to the seventh playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference (EC). The three other teams that are also jockeying for position for the NBA’s sixth through eighth playoff spots in the EC, the Detroit Pistons (#6), Miami Heat (#8), and the Orlando Magic (#9), also lost last night.

The Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, and the Orlando Magic all have at least two formidable teams to play between now and April 10, 2019, the last day of the NBA regular season. And, by formidable, these teams have already clinched the 1 through 5 NBA Eastern Conference playoff spots. NBA Eastern Conference spots 6 through 8 are up for grabs between four teams or five, depending on how you feel about the Charlotte Hornets because technically, right now, sitting at 35-42, mathematically, the Hornets are not out of contention. Teams that the Hornets have on their schedule right now are the New Orleans Pelicans (32-46) a Western Conference team, and then EC teams, the Toronto Raptors (55-23), Detroit Pistons (39-38), Cleveland Cavaliers (21-57) and the Orlando Magic (38-40).

But, looking at the upcoming schedule for the teams that most people believe are in the race, Detroit has two strong teams to play, the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. On Miami’s schedule are the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Orlando Magic being in the ninth spot is currently on the outside looking in and seemingly has the easiest schedule. The Magic’s last three games are against the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and the Boston Celtics. Of this lot, only the Boston Celtics is a playoff team. However, that doesn’t mean that the Magic would only lose to the Boston Celtics. Not in the least, the Nets just beat the Celtics, who were without Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, on Saturday. These are all NBA teams and on any given night, there could be key players out, there could be an upset or the outcome could be predictable, which will make the next few days very exciting for some and not so exciting for others.

Focusing on the Nets, they have four more games on their schedule. The Nets play the Toronto Raptors tomorrow at the Barclays Center, a back-to-back on the road on Saturday and Sunday, against the Milwaukee Bucks again, and the Indiana Pacers and then they come back home to play the Miami Heat on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the last day of the regular season.

Wednesday, April 10, could be the determining day between the Nets and the Miami Heat, as well as other teams. Or, it could be over before the Nets get home depending upon what they do from this point forward and what the other teams do. Clearly, this is not a good position to be in.

And, as Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert, who scored 24 points, four rebounds and six assists, assessed last night’s game against the Bucks, the Nets have to be focused and dialed in from start to finish if they truly want to secure a playoff spot.

“I think we put ourselves in a big hole in that first quarter and it was tough fighting back, especially against a good team like that,” said LeVert. “They’re number one in the East for a reason. But we just have to learn from it. We played great basketball for like three-and-a-half quarters, so we have to learn from it and keep going.”

D’Angelo Russell lights up the Boston Celtics with 20 points in the third quarter

We’re coming into the homestretch for the NBA regular season and the Brooklyn Nets are fighting to hold onto a playoff spot. And, boy, did the Nets catch a break to win this matchup over the Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center last night! No Kyrie Irving and no Al Horford, both players were nursing illnesses. For Irving, it was low back soreness and for Horford, it was left knee soreness. But the Celtics had scoring leaders Gordon Hayward, who scored 19 points, six rebounds, and three assists off the bench, and; both Marcus Morris and Daniel Theis each scored 16 points, and five and four rebounds respectively. Also, it should be noted that Theis racked up his totals coming off the bench.

The Celtics led the Nets at the end of the first quarter 21-17, not a big margin. But small margins can balloon, and at the end of the first half, it was anybody’s guess how things would eventually turn out, as the Nets led the Celtics by one point, 49-48. But then came the third quarter and Brooklyn ended this stanza with an 11-point lead over Boston (82-70). As the fourth quarter was closing out, it was clear that the Brooklyn Nets was defending home turf mightily and there was a possibility of holding yet another opponent to less than 100 points.

With the 110-96 win over the Boston Celtics last night, the Nets improved to 39-38 overall and 22-16 at Barclays Center and are currently holding down the seventh playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference, while the Celtics fell to 45-32 overall and 18-20 on the road with the loss. And, don't cry for the Celtics, Argentina, as they are in the fourth playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference. And, unlike the Nets, the Celtics have already clinched their playoff spot so no matter what happens from this point on, the Celtics will be playing when the NBA's regular season ends.

Nevertheless, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was visibly upset during a timeout in the third quarter.

“I was really frustrated,” Stevens told the media after the game. “I didn’t think we valued possessions at the level we need to, to be a good team. That’s what I just talked about and I get it. We played really hard last night. Last night was a tough game but every possession all year matters. We haven’t been great at that and that’s one of the things if we’re going to make it anywhere significant, they’ve all got to matter equally. Offensively and defensively. Moving it. All of those things. I didn’t think anyone was on their “A” game by any means tonight and I just think we’ll need to be better.”

“We weren’t very good in the first half, and that’s a credit to their defense,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said as he started to break down the two halves. “My biggest fear against this team – against the Celtics – was, can you score against them? I think they’re just a great defensive team. We struggled in the first half and got it going in the third quarter. Obviously, D’Angelo... I think we were getting stopped when we got out on a break and I think playing against their set defense is very difficult. You have to get them back in a transition situation where they’re not set. I thought we did a great job at that. I think that’s how D’Angelo got loose. We had a couple (of) guys get to the rim a few times. And, also, just a good defensive effort by us, really good defensive effort.”

The Brooklyn Nets’ primary floor general, D’Angelo Russell, also chimed in with his assessment of the two halves.

“There’s two halves in a game,” Russell stated. “First half was a little suspect, costly turnovers, questionable shot selection, so I just knew I had to tighten up and we’re a team when someone sets an example we’re going to follow. DeMarre Carroll was solid for us, kept us solid and then I just wanted to take it over at the start of the third.”

D’Angelo Russell led the Brooklyn Nets with a game-high 29 points, a game-high 10 assists, three rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes. Caris LeVert scored 15 points and four steals in 29 minutes off the bench. Both Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll tallied 13 points each for the Nets. Harris also accumulated a game-high eight rebounds, while Carroll added four rebounds to his total, and; Jarrett Allen posted 10 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

The Nets will host the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center on Monday, April 1, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Also, on Monday, the Celtics will return home to host the Miami Heat, who is currently holding the eighth playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference. The Celtics vs. Heat game is also at 7:30 p.m. ET.

With the win, the Nets move back into the No. 6 spot in the NBA Eastern Conference; Spencer Dinwiddie leads all scorers with 19 points

For the first time in a good long while, the atmosphere in the Barclays Center was like the NBA playoffs; it was over-the-top electric, as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Detroit Pistons 103-75. Wowza! With the win, the Nets have won four straight games and got back to the sixth position in the NBA Eastern Conference right behind the Boston Celtics. The Nets improved to 36-33 overall and 21-16 at Barclays Center, while the Pistons fell to 34-32 overall and 13-19 on the road with the loss.

By the Numbers

The Nets held the Pistons to .278 shooting (27-of-97) from the field, which marked a season-low for a Nets' opponent field goal percentage and the third-lowest opponent field goal percentage in franchise history. You would have to go all the way back to November 9, 2004, to a Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers game when the Nets held the Trail Blazers to a .244 field goal percentage, yikes! And, on March 7, 2006, against the Phoenix Suns when the Nets held the Suns to a field goal percentage of .268.

Not only did the Detroit Pistons lose, right now they are a team that holds the dubious distinction of a Nets’ opponent with a season-low 75 points, that has to sting. But that is better than ending the game with 62 points, which is what the Pistons had after three quarters – Nets 88 Pistons 62.

But don’t despair, Detroit, you’re not the only team that the Brooklyn Nets led by 26 after three quarters. Just last week on March 4, the Nets led the Dallas Mavericks by 26 points at the end of the third quarter with a score of 99-73. But wait, there’s more. The Nets held the San Antonio Spurs to the fewest points at the end of the third this season, which was 81-59.

Brooklyn also edged Detroit 54-24 (+30) in points in the paint and 18-5 (+13) in fast break points.

What stuck out most about the Nets for Detroit Pistons head coach Dwyane Casey, was “just the physicality of the game – they came in and whipped us every which way there was. We didn’t fight through screens, we didn’t set screens, any phase of basketball you want to talk about. If we’re serious about making the playoffs, we have to come out and not believe all the hype and all the stuff. We didn’t come out and play. I didn’t coach physical enough or whatever. We didn’t play physical enough. We took a full step back tonight.”

“Everything kind of aligned tonight,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought the game plan was good and the guys executed well, especially defensively. Detroit was coming off a game the night before, and it is late in the season, so we had more juice tonight. I don’t say that to take anything away from our guys.”

“It was another step from all our other games,” Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen explained. “We knew that we had to bring a certain physicality against Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, so we had to turn it up a little bit.”

So how did Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin fare when it was all said and done?

Andre Drummond scored 13 points, 20 rebounds, and three assists for Detroit, while Blake Griffin added 10 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

While the Pistons only had two players to score 10 points or more, the Nets had seven.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead all scorers with 19 points (5-of-11 FG, 7-of-7 FT), Allen Crabbe scored a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and he added four assists; Rodions Kurucs posted 13 points; both Joe Harris and Caris LeVert tallied 12 points, Harris accumulated four rebounds and three assists to his totals, while LeVert who came off the bench and added five rebounds to his points. Both Jarrett Allen and D’Angelo Russell each scored 11 points, Allen added eight rebounds and two blocked shots to his totals, while Russell added seven assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

What's Next

Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the Brooklyn Nets kick off their seven-game road trip with their first stop in Oklahoma City to play the Thunder and their last game on this road trip is against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 28, 2019, before returning home to play the Boston Celtics on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons will travel to Miami to play the Miami Heat, another team struggling to make the playoffs. This match-up will be on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at 7 p.m. ET.

Washington Wizards down early, but used its wizardry to tie it up and wrap it up with 125-116 victory; D’Angelo Russell scored 23 points in the first half

This was a game where the final score really doesn’t tell the whole story. From the last third of the first quarter, it was tough sledding, but the Nets managed to close the gap in its 125-116 loss to the Washington Wizards.

At the outset, it took the Wizards more than three minutes to get points on the board. At 8:56 in the first, the Nets were leading 10-0, but with some wizardry, Washington scored its first two points. At the 4:08 mark in the first quarter, the score was tied 18-18. By the end of the quarter, the Washington Wizards finished on top 34-28. The remaining three quarters were more of the same. In the second stanza the Nets stayed close, tying twice, but ultimately, ending the quarter on the losing end 68-60. The third quarter was when things really went south, the Nets were down by as much as 28 points at 2:14, ultimately ending the third, 101-79, a deficit of 22 points. In a word, UGLY. Now, to their credit, towards the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, you could physically see the Nets hustling. But prior to the fourth period, everything that could go wrong went terribly wrong, it was as if they were under a spell. But, ultimately, the Nets managed to dig themselves out of the double-digit hole, ending the game down by nine, 125-116.

“I was concerned before the game about this team (Wizards),” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said responding to a question about the Nets lack of defense. “They’re a very good, talented offensive team. We didn’t stop them. Credit to them, I thought they played really well. Obviously, we didn’t have that it. Whatever it is, we didn’t have it across the board – players, coaches. It just wasn’t there. Just not nearly good enough to beat them tonight.”

Atkinson went on to say that he addressed the Wizards’ numerous fast-breaks during the team’s meeting at halftime.

“Yeah, we told them,” Atkinson continued. “Even without John Wall, they played faster than they did before. That was key, number one. We had poor transition defense. It doesn’t help when you’re missing shots – 5-for-23 for three in the first half, missing lay-ups and etcetera, etcetera. I think we can throw it in one bucket, it was across the board. I just thought we just weren’t very good, and they were very good. Really, it was nine points, but it’s really a 20, 25-point loss, the way it feels.”

THE THIRD QUARTER BREAKDOWN

“We were locked in, we defended,” Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said about the third quarter. “We did a great job of defending the basketball. Brooklyn is a hard team to guard. They have a lot of players that play fast. They can make a lot of threes. We did a good job of guarding the 3-point line. That was a point of emphasis that we wanted to accomplish tonight, and we did. It’s just one game, we played solid on the defensive end. We made too many mistakes down the stretch with the eight turnovers in that fourth quarter. Other than that, I thought we played solid throughout the game.”

“I think it just all happened after the 10-point lead,” Nets center Jarrett Allen said responding to a question about the Nets’ third-quarter breakdown. “We just came out unprepared, just mentally unfocused. You could tell that our energy wasn’t there, and our minds weren’t there either.”

In addition to beating the Nets 33-19 on points in the third quarter, the Wizards also took over on the boards. On the defensive end, Washington outrebounded Brooklyn 10-7 and offensively 4-1.

“I think we got a little dejected,” Nets forward Joe Harris said about his team’s performance in the third. “The energy felt down when they started to make a run in the third quarter. It seemed the harder that we tried, the worse that it got. We made a little run at it and then they started making some plays, they took advantage of our low energy. Tough to dig yourself out of it. But I thought the guys that went in at the end of the game did a good job of competing all the way through. Seeing Tahjere (McCall) go out there and compete, get a few buckets was awesome. Shabazz (Napier) played well. But, collectively, it was not a good enough effort on everybody’s part tonight.”

SCORING LEADERS

D’Angelo Russell led all Brooklyn Nets scorer with 28 points (9-of-16 FG), seven assists and three rebounds; Shabazz Napier came off the bench and scored 22 points, and Jarrett Allen accumulated 12 points and six rebounds.

Tahjere McCall, who the Brooklyn Nets signed to his first 10-day contract, made his NBA debut and registered four points and one rebound in under eight minutes after stepping on the court for the first time in the fourth quarter at the 7:58 mark. McCall scored his first two points on a driving layup at 5:16.

For the Washington Wizards, five players scored in double digits. Bradley Beal led all scorers with 31 points and four assists; Trevor Ariza registered 23 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists; Thomas Bryant accumulated 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists off the bench; Jeff Green scored 15 points and five rebounds, and; Bobby Portis chipped in 10 points and 12 rebounds.

UP NEXT

The Washington Wizards will travel to Boston to play the Boston Celtics tomorrow, Friday, March 1, 2019. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets remain at home to play the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, March 1, 2019, at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m.

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