Limping into the playoffs received’t essentially preclude the Nets from an extended postseason run — and final yr’s NBA Finals present simply the most recent indication.
The 2020 league finalists — the eventual champion Lakers and the group they beat for the title, the Heat — each completed the season dropping six of their remaining 9 video games, together with 3-5 marks as soon as play resumed for seeding functions within the NBA’s bubble.
The Nets suddenly have lost four games in a row for the primary time this season, doubtless eliminating their prospects of surpassing the 76ers for the No. 1 seed within the Eastern Conference. The late-season stoop additionally has probably set them as much as drop to the third playoff place. The Bucks entered their sport Friday evening towards the NBA-worst Rockets a half-game behind the Nets, with management of the head-to-head tiebreaker between the groups.
The Nets (43-24) have 5 video games remaining, beginning with Saturday’s go to to Denver. And they hope James Harden nonetheless will return earlier than the playoffs start after lacking the previous 17 video games with a hamstring pressure.
The Nets’ assembled Big 3 of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have performed simply seven video games collectively. They are 27-7 when Harden has performed this season and 9/11 with out him since he was acquired in January from the Rockets.
Harden stated Thursday “the plan” was to aim to play “a couple” of video games before the end of the regular season.
“Well clearly, James is an amazing player. He means a lot to this team. We’ve had a lot of success with him before. He’ll improve us immediately in a lot of ways, he’ll cover up a lot of holes,” coach Steve Nash stated after Thursday’s loss in Dallas. “But we nonetheless don’t have that frequent expertise. So we have to develop and study and play collectively.
“That may not be enough, but it is what it is, and we’ve got to come together as quickly as possible. And what can we control to win games as we’re finding that understanding and cohesion?”
Thursday’s sport marked the team-record thirty fifth beginning lineup Nash has employed this season. Irving, when requested if it has been a “daunting” problem to search out continuity earlier than the playoffs start, provided a combined response.
“Daunting in this game, in this business, I don’t know about that, but it’s been an adjustment for us to learn one another on the fly,” Irving replied. “Learn one another’s video games on the fly; 35 video games with completely different lineups, you’re studying on the fly.
“We can say we’re professionals, we know what to expect from one another. When things are going well we’re happy — hooray — and when things are not going well we’re, ‘Ah well, we need to do this, we need to make some adjustments.’ I think that’s normal, that’s healthy. But for us we’re really just focused on our health first and we want to get guys prepared for whatever that next stage looks like when things matter and it’s win or go home.”
Moreover, Irving added he desires the roster “to be as healthy as possible” after Durant additionally missed almost two months with a hamstring damage earlier than returning to the lineup in April.
“You can’t make up time spent with anyone unless you just go do it,” Irving stated. “We are in part of our journey proper now the place we’re being challenged and now we have to look deep inside by way of what every certainly one of us can do in our roles to be higher for the collective unit.
“This has to be about our team, it has to be about ‘we,’ and I think we do a great job of that. But now we are asking each other to go to a certain level. Some of us have been on a championship level, some of us have not, and trying to mesh that together takes time. Usually it takes teams one or two seasons, three seasons, or the case may be, but now we’re heading into this playoff run where we have to make it up on the fly. And that’s OK. But at the same time, things are not gonna look perfect and we have to inevitably be ready for that.”