It’s hard to believe, but after tonight, only four games remain in the Nets inaugural campaign in Brooklyn.
The club now sits comfortably in the fourth seed in the conference after the Chicago Bulls lost to the Toronto Raptors last night. The Nets are now three games ahead of the Bulls for the fourth seed. The Bulls, though, only lead the Atlanta Hawks by 1/2 game, so while the Nets are comfortably in the fourth seed, there is still uncertainty as to who they will square off against in the first round of this year's playoffs.
Before the Nets defeated the Charlotte Bobcats last Saturday, P.J. Carlesimo kept it simple. “We need to win games,” he said. “First thing is that if we want to have home court, we need to win seven games.”
The Nets took care of business Saturday over the Bobcats and followed it up by defeating the Philadelphia 76ers last night.
After a tough back-to-back in Boston tonight, the Nets are off on Thursday and will play their final four games over the final six days of the season.
Carlesimo said that team won’t change or alter its approach over the final stretch and will use whatever remaining time left to try to keep refining their game.
“Games are so much more meaningful than practices in terms of trying to improve the tempo,” he said. “The best practice you can get is a game.”
Carlesimo said there are still plenty of thing the Nets can work on. Defense over a full 48-minute stretch and doing a better job rebounding are two of things he mentioned.
And of course, the Nets must focus on limiting their turnovers.
“Turnovers are always a problem for us,” Carlesimo said. “When we don’t turn the ball over, we generally score 100 points. We’re usually pretty efficient and we do a good job. When we start turning the ball over, you get all the problems you get with turnovers. All those things we need to tighten up as we get closer to the playoffs.”
The Nets dominated the 76ers on Tuesday, but the Sixers are 31-46 and a cellar dweller in the Eastern Conference. Tonight's contest in Boston, a road game against a playoff team, is a much better test.
While trying to go on a hot streak is important heading into the playoffs, it’s really only important for a team’s confidence. Carlesimo said that the first-round matchup trumps any momentum.
“The Knicks right now are playing probably better or as good as anybody in the whole league, but unfortunately when the thing’s over, you start all over,” Carlesimo said on Saturday. Since then, the Knicks have won two more games, run their winning streak to 13 games, and have clinched the Atlantic Division title for the first time since 1994.
Even with just five games remaining, consistency has still been a major hindrance to this team. Putting forth a consistent effort during the final stretch—regardless of wins—will at least get the team believing it can make some noise in the playoffs.
“We have to develop some type of consistency,” Joe Johnson said on Saturday. “We want to be able to compete in the playoffs. We can’t have highs and lows, like we have a great quarter then a low quarter. You can’t beat a great team like that.”
As it stands, Brooklyn looks destined to enter the playoffs as the fourth seed. If they remain there manage to win their first round series, a date with the Miami Heat would be looming.
As the Nets have shown this season, you can’t beat the Heat by playing an inconsistent game. In fact, many teams can’t beat the Heat even when they play their best basketball.
One series at a time, one game at a time, yes, but a few wins over the final two weeks can help the Nets enter the postseason on a very high note.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.