Skip to content

The Extra Pass: Nets clinch a playoff spot, and may do some real postseason damage

Apr 2, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

Jason Kidd, Deron Williams

NEW YORK – The Nets clinched a playoff spot on Tuesday by taking care of the shorthanded Rockets, and the team’s overall body of work since the first of the year makes you believe that they may be able to do some real postseason damage now that they’re officially in.

Brooklyn’s 105-96 victory was the team’s 14th straight at home, a new franchise record, and the team’s 13th in their last 17 games overall. Miami and Indiana are at the top of the Eastern Conference standings for their season-long excellence, but the Nets are the ones with the East’s best record since Jan. 1 at 30-12 — more than a half-season worth of dominance.

Playoffs for this Nets team seemed like a long shot in December, when they ended the month tied with the likes of Cleveland and Orlando with a record of 10-20 that had them well outside of the postseason picture. Most of the veteran stars on the club, however, including head coach Jason Kidd, said their faith never wavered following Tuesday night’s clincher.

“I’ve seen too many games,” Kidd said. “The league is very fragile. Things change quickly. For us, when you look at the group of guys in that locker room, they all believed that if we stayed together, we stayed professional and we worked, and we always never had an excuse. We never came to the podium, or never when you guys asked a question used an excuse. We took our lumps, but we felt that we could get better, and right now we are — but we still have a long ways to go.”

“It means a lot,” said Deron Williams of officially making the playoffs. “We talked about it this morning. It’s always good to know you’re in, to know you’re in the playoffs and kind of take that pressure off. We expected it at the beginning of the year, and we’ve been expecting it lately with the way we’ve been playing.”

“We expected to be in the playoffs,” Paul Pierce said. “It’s just another step toward our goal. We’re happy with the way we’ve been playing lately, over the last couple of months. But as far as making the playoffs, this is something we already expected to do. Happy  to make the playoffs, but that’s just a small goal of ours.”

The only one who admitted to being troubled early on was Joe Johnson, who was magnificent against Houston in finishing with 32 points.

“Honestly I couldn’t even see it,” he said. “I kept saying to myself, things are going to turn around, things are going to turn for us. Eventually, it did. At the start of the new year we were a different team. Our mindset was different, and the way we played was different.”

The Nets have found their way by going smaller with their lineups, a move made out of necessity once Brook Lopez was lost for the season with a foot fracture. This recent stretch of wins has come with Kevin Garnett sidelined, but rookie Mason Plumlee has been able to take Garnett’s 20 or so minutes per game in the rotation and act as a legitimate placeholder until he returns.

The reason that Brooklyn has been able to be so successful in the latter part of the season has been the coming together of what was envisioned when all of those payroll dollars were committed over the last two summers. The team has three legitimate stars in Williams, Pierce and Johnson who are all capable of taking over offensively on a given night. It’s been Pierce the last two games, getting off to insanely strong first quarter starts and leading his team in scoring. It was Johnson on this night, and it’s been Williams on several others.

As for the Nets and their postseason chances, they are 3-0 against the defending champion Heat this season, and all of those wins have been gritty, extremely close contests. They’re 0-3 against the Pacers, but two of those losses came in the early part of the season, and the most recent was by a single point on the road back on Feb.1. And, given the laundry list of problems in Indiana right now, the Nets would feel just fine about their chances in a postseason matchup.

It’s taken perhaps longer than expected, but the Nets are in a good place, and have been for quite some time. The season is long and there has been plenty to overcome, and Kidd seemed to have the patience that others lacked when assessing the team in the early part of the year — and to this point, it’s paid off as few could have imagined.

“I think when you look at the high expectations, the new faces, maybe the new defensive and offensive schemes, guys just finding their way, being traded for the first time — there’s a lot of different things that are going on, and you’ve got to put the pieces of the puzzle together,” Kidd said. “You sprinkle in some injuries, and it’s just a matter of time being patient. We didn’t get off to a great start, but guys kept working and we found our way.”

Latest Posts
  1. LeBron James Jr. is pretty good at basketball (video)

    Dec 22, 2014, 9:35 PM EST

    Detroit Pistons v Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 6 Getty Images

    LeBron’s son has pretty impressive highlight mix

  2. Russell Westbrook doesn’t want to talk about passing, willing to shoot fewer 3-pointers

    Dec 22, 2014, 7:54 PM EST

    New Orleans Pelicans v Oklahoma City Thunder Getty Images

    Thunder point guard both dismissive and introspective after loss to Pelicans

  3. Flip Saunders says Minnesota fans will not forgive Kevin Love for leaving them

    Dec 22, 2014, 6:59 PM EST

    Kevin Love, Alan Anderson, Mason Plumlee Kevin Love, Alan Anderson, Mason Plumlee

    Love will be booed more vehemently on Tuesday than LeBron will on Thursday.

  4. Brook Lopez wants to play a Wookie in next Star Wars film

    Dec 22, 2014, 6:17 PM EST

    2014 Brooklyn Nets Media Day Getty Images

    Well, it would be better than more Jar Jar Binks.

  5. PBT Extra: Where might Josh Smith end up after Pistons’ bold stroke?

    Dec 22, 2014, 4:35 PM EST

    Josh Smith AP

    The Rockets are the frontrunners to land him.

  6. Report: Jameer Nelson and Celtics discuss future, no buyout discussions yet

    Dec 22, 2014, 3:05 PM EST

    Jameer Nelson, Mario Chalmers AP

    Boston might try to re-trade point guard acquired in Rajon Rondo deal

  7. Knicks Samuel Dalembert fined $15,000 for elbowing Jonas Valanciunas in face (VIDEO)

    Dec 22, 2014, 1:01 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Maybe Dalembert wanted to get ejected so he didn’t have to watch any more of the Raptors easy win over the Knicks.

  8. Pistons release Josh Smith. WHAT?

    Dec 22, 2014, 12:21 PM EST

    Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Pistons use stretch provision on forward owed more than $35 million

  9. Victor Oladipo, focused on effort and defense, still finds time to raise offense

    Dec 22, 2014, 10:29 AM EST

    Toronto Raptors beat the Orlando Magic 95-82 Getty Images

    Magic guard avoiding sophomore slump of other top 2013-14 rookies

  10. 76ers were third team in Corey Brewer trade, send Alexey Shved to Rockets

    Dec 22, 2014, 9:39 AM EST

    Atlanta Hawks v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Philadelphia will waive Turiaf, who’s injured and out for season

  11. Lakers may give Kobe Bryant some nights off to rest. If he wants them.

    Dec 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    Byron Scott can tell Kobe to rest, but it will be Kobe’s decision. Kobe has the power in that relationship.

Featured video

Jabari Parker injury latest for disappointing rookie class
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (8072)
  2. K. Martin (7692)
  3. T. Parker (7151)
  4. C. Bosh (7143)
  5. D. Rose (7083)
  1. R. Rondo (7046)
  2. T. Jones (6950)
  3. M. Smart (6728)
  4. A. Bogut (6505)
  5. B. Lopez (6459)