Surging Nets Back In The Hunt For Play-In Tournament

Nets Play-In Tournament
Published by NYSB Staff
Last Updated: 13. Mar 2024.

Do not look now, but the Brooklyn Nets are back in the race for the final spot in the play-in tournament.

The Nets finished a two-game sweep over the Atlanta Hawks Saturday with a 114-102 victory at Barclays Center. Brooklyn - which claimed a 124-97 win against Atlanta on Thursday - is just two games behind the No. 10 seed Hawks with 22 games left in the regular season.

Mikal Bridges' Stellar Performance

Mikal Bridges poured in 38 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets to the key win. The 2022 NBA All-Defensive First Team performer connected on 14-of-26 shots from the field, including 5 of 10 from behind the 3-point line.

"It just shows the fight," Bridges said. "We gotta keep it throughout the rest of the season. We gotta keep fighting. It might not be perfect and obviously you might not win every game, but as long as we're playing hard and playing the right way, I like our chances." 

Breaking the Slump

Bridges broke out of a funk that saw the Nets' leading scorer drop just two of 28 3-point shots. Besides shooting 19.5 percent from behind the arc, the career 84.4 percent free throw shooter hit only 55.6 percent from the charity stripe during his horrendous slump.

“I feel like when I’m open, you know, I’m going to take 3s. They all feel good, it’s just not going in unfortunately, which is not fun,” Bridges said. “Just continue to take what the defense gives me, keep being aggressive. Only way to get out of this slump is to keep shooting.”

The Turning Point

The Hawks controlled the pace early and held a 13-point lead before the Nets went on a 15-2 run to open the third quarter to blow the game open. 

"Force. That's what changed, playing with force on the offensive end, the defensive end, our cuts were sharper," interim coach Kevin Ollie said. "On the offensive end, we shared the cake, and another thing: We stopped turning the ball over."

Brooklyn continued their impressive 3-point shooting with 15 of 32 shots hitting the bottom of the net. The Nets also tallied just 10 turnovers in Saturday's win to remain in the race for a postseason berth.

Cameron Johnson followed his 29-point outing Thursday night with 23 points, while Nic Claxton added 12 points and 13 rebounds.

"Just keep competing," Johnson said. "We knew they were going to come out with some juice today, some energy, and they threw the first punch, but there was plenty of game left."

Back-to-Back Wins Signal Momentum

The win was the first time Brooklyn tasted victory in back-to-back games since late January, and improved Ollie's record to 3-3 after the franchise sacked head coach Jacque Vaughn.

The Nets notched their first win under Ollie last Monday with a blowout 111-86 victory over the Ja Morant-less Memphis Grizzlies. Dennis Schroder scored a team-high 18 points and dished out five assists in an impressive win that saw seven Brooklyn players finish in double figures.

"Yeah, it's just phenomenal. They just kept believing. It's been a couple up-and-down days, unknown days, and they just stayed together. And one thing I know about his team: They love each other. And that's the only thing I want to see because love can get through anything," Ollie said.

"It's special. It's 30 coaches in the league, and he's one of them. Got his first win. That's pretty special and more to come, hopefully this season. But that was special for him," said Schroder. 

"But we've got to move forward now. Got to enjoy tonight and then tomorrow against a good team in Orlando."

Brooklyn opened the game with a 14-5 run and headed into the second quarter with a 30-18 advantage. The Nets took a 66-40 lead into the locker room at halftime and were never challenged in the second half in the lopsided win.

"Much needed. We forgot what that felt like. So it's a good feeling. But it's on to the next one. So you've got to come in prepared and locked in for ," Ben Simmons said.

"Just knowing we don't have time, and it's gonna come down to details and just wanting it more. Obviously Memphis isn't the best team in the league, but everyone's gonna come and compete and that's what they did. But we hit them first."

Simmons Sidelined Again With Leg Soreness

The Nets 6-foot-10 point guard sat for the third consecutive game Saturday because of left leg soreness. The three-time All-Star has played in just 15 games this season and has suited up in just 57 games for Brooklyn since arriving at the 2022 trade deadline.

Simmon's latest injury has led to some confusion with Ollie telling reporters that his star playmaker was dealing with some knee issues.

"It's a knee situation. We don't have any clarity on it yet. We'll go back and get some tests and make sure he's OK. I don't know his availability for Monday," Ollie said, adding "Yes, he will definitely get ."

However, a team spokesman later clarified that Ollie had misspoken and that Simmons' knee was fine, and that no imaging was needed.

Cam Thomas missed his third straight game Saturday with a right ankle sprain. Ollie noted that both players are considered day-to-day and should return to the starting lineup in the near future.

"I just know they're getting back healthy. Slowly but surely, they're getting back on the court, so they're just still day-to-day. We trust in our medical staff with all our faith that they're doing the right things off the court to get better and doing their rehab.

"I know they're constantly doing their rehab, trying to get better so they can be contributing to this team's success going forward, so it's just day-to-day now, but hopefully we'll see them soon."

Join the Playoff Chase: Bet on the Nets

As the Nets continue to defy expectations and push for a spot in the play-in tournament, fans and sports enthusiasts alike might be considering the team's odds for upcoming games. 

For those looking to support the team through betting, exploring the regulated betting sites in NY offers a secure way to place your bets. Check out our recommendations for the best sportsbooks to ensure you're getting the best odds and experience.

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