Skip to content

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

Apr 2, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

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. Pau Gasol on Fred Hoiberg: “I think we’ll play with a better flow offensively”

    Jul 30, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT

    Pau Gasol Pau Gasol

    Hoiberg has a much stronger offensive reputation than Tom Thibodeau.

  2. Blazers waive Brendan Haywood after acquiring him from Cavs

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:43 PM EDT

    Brendan Haywood, Michael Beasley Brendan Haywood, Michael Beasley

    Portland received Mike Miller and two second-round picks in addition to Haywood.

  3. Report: Kings expected to hire Nancy Lieberman as assistant coach

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Austin Toros v Texas Legends Austin Toros v Texas Legends

    Lieberman would be the second female assistant coach, after Becky Hammon

  4. Report: Hawks’ Mike Scott arrested for felony drug possession

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Mike Scott Mike Scott

    Scott was charged with possession of marijuana and MDMA.

  5. Josh Smith clarifies “harder on me” comments in Players Tribune essay

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers Introduce Free Agent Signings Los Angeles Clippers Introduce Free Agent Signings

    Smith says he was talking more about family stability than money in his controversial comments.

  6. Tony Parker says for Spurs this is “last crack at it to try to win it all”

    Jul 30, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT

    Tony Parker, Tim Duncan Tony Parker, Tim Duncan

    In what will be the last year for Duncan and Manu Ginobili, not to mention David West’s long career, there will be plenty of desperation and energy in San Antonio.

  7. Flip Saunders: Kevin Garnett will start for Timberwolves

    Jul 30, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    Kevin Garnett AP

    Will Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Pekovic or Gorgui Dieng start beside him?

  8. Flip Saunders still maintains he planned to keep Kevin Love until Andrew Wiggins offer

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    2013 NBA Draft Lottery Getty Images

    Timberwolves apparently weren’t just going to trade Love for whatever they could get

  9. Mark Cuban: NBA would have punished Tom Brady more harshly than Roger Goodell did

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Mark Cuban

    Suspending Patriots quarterback for a quarter of the season was bare minimum for Mavericks owner

  10. Report: Team USA uncertain whether Dwight Howard, John Wall will attend minicamp

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:07 PM EDT

    Dwight Howard, John Wall AP

    Jerry Colangelo said attendance was mandatory to be considered for 2016 Olympic team

  11. Adam Silver: NBA on track to play regular-season games in Africa

    Jul 30, 2015, 11:22 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwm0ndlhnjzlyjziyjk4otqxymqym2y5yzrintq4yjm1 AP

    NBA commissioner confident Africa will get a preseason game

  12. Thabo Sefolosha: Too soon to say when I’ll play again

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

    Thabo Sefolosha AP

    Hawks wing says his leg and ankle feel better

  13. 76ers sign Richaun Holmes

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:28 AM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers: Richaun Holmes Portrait Getty Images

    Philadelphia drafted Holmes in second round

  14. Matt Barnes ready to “foul the beep” out of DeAndre Jordan when Grizzlies, Clippers meet

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:33 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpthkoty3ytfmn2fjnjvlyjeyytc0mwvlngi0nwqyzmjh AP

    Barnes is a perfect fit in for the “grit and grind” style of the Grizzlies.

  15. Wesley Matthews says Trail Blazers never made him an offer, “I was pissed off”

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Getty Images

    Portland not making a call means they knew Aldridge was gone and it was time to rebuild.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (2610)
  2. B. Haywood (2192)
  3. I. Thomas (2112)
  4. A. Randolph (1846)
  5. M. Miller (1792)