Monday, April 10 – Nets at Celtics
Pregame – Nets Hot Finish No Surprise to C’s
BOSTON – The Brooklyn Nets posses the worst record in NBA as they enter tonight’s game against the Boston Celtics.
But don’t let their 20-60 win-loss mark fool you; the Nets have suddenly caught fire during the final stretch of the regular season, and could pose a challenge for a Boston team that is fighting for the top seed in the East.
Brooklyn has posted the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference over the last month with a 9-7 tally. There are six potentially playoff-bound teams in the East that have logged worse records during that span, including Cleveland, Washington, Chicago, Miami, Indiana and Atlanta.
The Nets have been shocking teams around the league over the last month, but Celtics coach Brad Stevens is not the least bit surprised about their sudden surge.
“When we were in Brooklyn for the last exhibition game, we thought that Brooklyn was going to be a team that exceeded expectations all year,” Stevens recalled ahead of tonight’s tip-off. “What happened to them was that Jeremy Lin got hurt.”
Lin injured his hamstring during Brooklyn’s fifth game of the regular season and the starting point guard missed 45 of Brooklyn’s next 51 games as a result. The Nets have gone 11-12 since his return on Feb. 24, after a woeful, 9-48 start.
“That was probably the one injury that they couldn’t afford at that point in time,” said Stevens. “But ever since he’s been back and going in the last month, they’re top five in defense, top 10 in transition and top 10 in getting to the foul line. They’ve been really good, and it’s a credit to the players and staff that they’ve kept it going.”
It’s remarkable that the Nets have maintained such a collective fighting attitude during the last month, considering they were the first team in the league that was eliminated from playoff contention.
“These guys could easily ease back and relax, but that hasn’t been the case,” said Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “They keep fighting. Brook (Lopez) and Jeremy are leading it. They’re fighting me for more and more minutes, and they want to keep playing. And then our young guys are trying to prove themselves. They’re fighting for minutes. They’re fighting for contracts. They’re fighting for their future.”
So, while it may appear that Boston is the only team in tonight’s matchup that is still fighting for something, think again.
“These games are important for us, and important for our program to keep progressing,” said Atkinson. “It’s obviously an important game for them. And it’s an important game for us.”
– Taylor C. Snow