The Nets and Bucks might attempt to manipulate the NBA schedule by enjoying with hearth.
Or, reasonably, by enjoying to keep away from the Heat.
The Nets maintain a one-game lead within the chase for the No. 2 seed and home-court benefit within the second spherical of the playoffs, however the Bucks maintain the tiebreaker based mostly on the head-to-head, regular-season collection. Both groups play back-to-back games to shut out the common season, starting Saturday with Nets-Bulls at 1 p.m. adopted by Bucks-Heat at 8 p.m.
“I’m not too concerned where we are at in the standings,” Nets ahead Jeff Green mentioned. “For me, it’s about health. Regardless, there is going to be a tough road ahead to get where we want to be.”
True. But how about robust versus more durable?
If the Nets have been to lose, the Bucks would land within the driver’s seat and will go full throttle to win out and safe No. 2. If the Nets have been to win, the ball could be within the Bucks’ courtroom to determine between: 1) Playing to win and thus kicking the strain again to the Nets to play a full lineup Sunday and lock up No. 2 by beating the Cavaliers. 2) Taking a foot off the gasoline, resting Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton in opposition to the Heat and being content material at No. 3 no matter their very own end result Sunday in opposition to the Bulls.
The second choice isn’t as loopy because it sounds if the top aim is to keep away from a first-round matchup with the harmful Heat.
With yet one more loss, Miami, the defending Eastern Conference champion, might slide to No. 6 and be both the Nets’ or Bucks’ first-round drawback. If the Heat win out — with or with out the Bucks’ mild help — they keep in a No. 4-No. 5 first-round collection and loom because the 76ers’ possible second-round opponent. In that case, Sunday’s games could be irrelevant and the Nets would open the playoffs in opposition to a play-in event survivor and the Bucks possible would draw the Knicks.
The Bucks can’t say that they’re tanking a recreation, or that they’re dodging the Heat. What message of confidence would that ship to followers and gamers? But a wink-wink state of affairs is recognizable within the NBA.
“We’d like second,” Nets coach Steve Nash mentioned. “We’ll see what happens [Friday night and Saturday] around the league. It’s not something that is do-or-die. At the same time, we’ll see how this goes and we’ll make the subsequent decisions based on what happens, and then be prepared for Sunday.”
The injury-plagued Nets is perhaps extra hesitant than the Bucks to push their stars in back-to-back games, however the week of relaxation earlier than the playoffs offers a pleasant cushion. It’s primarily a chess match, with a careful-what-you-wish-for warning if both favourite will get too artistic to control matchups.
“As far as playoff prep, that is underway,” Nash mentioned. “I’m definitely going to look forward to seeing the results, but I am not watching the scoreboard. I think we have to worry about ourselves.”
It’s a state of affairs of the Nets’ personal doing. They misplaced back-to-back games in Milwaukee two weeks in the past when one win would’ve secured the tiebreaker. And they sat Kevin Durant in a loss to the 76ers on April 14 reasonably than pushing him to play on consecutive nights quickly after coming back from a hamstring damage. Had the Nets gained that recreation, all different issues being equal, they’d management their very own future for the No. 1 seed this weekend.
Instead, all eyes are on the Bucks and whether or not a possible Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals could be in Milwaukee or Brooklyn. To be decided by Sunday.