The Brooklyn Nets checked their fate ahead of Sunday’s game against the Indiana Pacers at Barclays. After flying over their predictable Play-In Tournament opponent, the Cleveland CavaliersFriday night, a must-see Sunday night will officially lock the Nets into the 7th seed.
“Every game we play, I feel like it’s a must win. We want to give our best,” said Kyrie Irving. “With this Play-In or Play-In tournament idea , the pressure has been a little bit more. It’s part of being in the NBA and being prepared daily for these types of moments. So we just want to come here with that same mentality that, ‘hey, let’s do do our best and do our best.’ So we feel good there.”
Although Brooklyn is tied for record with Cleveland, the team is currently in the 7th seed due to the tiebreaker they hold against the Cavs and Hawks but not the Hornets. Friday night’s win over the Cavs sealed a 3-1 season streak between the two teams.
“It’s good. A victory on Sunday, we will still have them [Cavaliers (likely)] tuesday. We just have to lock ourselves in and take care of the Pacers,” Bruce Brown said of Brooklyn taking 7th place.
A win over the Pacers on Sunday will give the Nets home-court advantage in Tuesday night’s 7-8 Play-In contest. Brooklyn is 19-21 at Barclays Center this season. The winner of the 7-8 Play-In match will be seeded 7 and will likely face the defending champions, the Milwaukee dollarsin the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
“That’s what we’re playing for: playing at home in the Play-In game,” Nash said. “We are definitely aiming to prepare for Sunday and win the game.”
If Brooklyn locks up the 7th seed with a win over the Pacers on Sunday, here’s what the Nets’ path to the playoffs will likely look like. As of this writing, the Bucks hold a 1.0 lead over the 3 seeds Boston Celtics and the 4 seeds, Philadelphia 76ers. The seed 1 miami heat holds a comfortable 2.0 lead over the Bucks.
Throughout the Eastern Conference, there have been conversations about whether seeding in the top half will be affected by the Nets’ preparation in the Play-In Tournament. In other words, would any top-seeded team from the East be in the standings to try and avoid Brooklyn in the first round.
“I don’t believe teams do that,” Durant said of teams dodging a first-round streak against the Nets. “I think a lot of teams try to make sure their guys are healthy before the playoffs. I don’t think they really care about us, to be honest. We just focus on what we do. do and no matter who we play against, we just play our game.”
On the other side, the Nets head coach explained that his players were also not watching their projected opponents in the first round carefully. The main objective has been to focus on improving as a team.
“Not really,” Nash said of who the team might face in the first round. “We’re so focused on trying to get better in a short time and getting better every day that we can’t start worrying about who, what, when. We just have to try to win this game on Sunday and the Play-In game on Tuesday.
Brooklyn will be without Goran Dragic (health and safety protocols) against the Pacers on Sunday afternoon. The Nets head coach said Dragic has returned to New York but is still within league health and safety protocols. Seth Curry (left ankle pain) is listed as probable. The Nets have won the last six games against the Pacers.
“It feels good to be in this position,” Irving said of being one win away from locking up the 7th seed. “Hardly contested, and we want to take it one day at a time and get ready for Indiana next Sunday, have some good results there, get better that day, and then get ready for Tuesday.”