The Brooklyn Nets were down 50 points to the Chicago Bulls at several points last night during their road game in the Windy City, and things have never looked so bleak. Ben Simmons was watching in street clothes again, Cam Thomas had lost his magic touch, and the resettled former members of the Suns looked lost. In Phoenix, Durant sat once again.
His old team, the Nets were dreadful as they remained in fifth place in the Eastern Conference but had their lead over the New York Knicks cut to one game. The Miami Heat are lurking 2 1/2 games back in seventh place, which is play-in territory.
If the Nets somehow land down there, or 8th, 9th or 10th, they are a play-in team. And if they do not get out of the play-in tournament, they are not a playoff team. Thems the rules at the sportsbooks.
And that possibility — missing the playoffs — remained priced at +650 at Draft Kings on Saturday morning despite what happened Friday night. Brooklyn to miss the playoffs was +550 at BetRivers, and off the board at the other seven New York sportsbooks. Those odds were subject to change, but early risers had that opportunity in front of them as the sun came up to begin the weekend.
The Nets played the worst half in their history Friday night en route to one of their worst beatings in years against a Bulls team that had lost six straight. You are excused if you are a Nets fan who turned off the TV when it was 11-0.
That's more like it. 44-point Bulls Win! pic.twitter.com/DoLaLFBHNm
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) February 25, 2023
How Bad Can Things Get For the Nets?
They have now lost three of four and five of seven, and next up is a road game Sunday at Atlanta before Hell Week commences: At home Tuesday for the Bucks, at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday to face the Knicks, then at Boston on Friday night on ESPN (unless Mickey Mouse comes to his senses and makes the Knicks-Heat the national TV game.) If we assume they go 0-4, which seems safe to assume after what we saw last night, they will be 34-29.
That is still well above .500, and right now the eighth-place team, the Hawks, is a .500 squad.
But dropping into the play-in bracket remains a real possibility, especially with the Nets having two games remaining against both Milwaukee and Cleveland, with stretch of seven of eight games being played on the road beginning next Wednesday at MSG. That stretch will be followed by home games against the Nuggets, Kings and two against the Cavs.
The Web site Five-Thirty-Eight gives the Nets an 85 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 0.3 chance of winning the title, which is a head-scratcher. Nothing is assured for any team finishing lower than sixth, and the Nets are highly capable of losing two consecutive play-in games.
The Bulls have a 46-point lead over the Nets with still one quarter left to play. pic.twitter.com/h09dGM3MgG
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) February 25, 2023
A lot can happen over the course of the remaining 23 games. Beverley’s new team is on the outside looking in sitting 11th in the East (27-33), and 9th place Toronto (29-31) or 10th place Washington (28-31) could fall out. The Wizards’ odds of making the playoff were +210 Saturday morning, the Bulls were +450 and the Raptors were +145 as they headed into a noon game at Detroit. The Nets were listed at -1000 at both DraftKings and BetRivers to make the playoffs.
What Would It Take For Nets To Fall To Seventh or Eighth?
The Nets would win a tiebreaker with the Heat, currently seventh, and they are 1-0 against eighth-place Atlanta heading into Sunday’s game with two games remaining vs. the Hawks. So Miami would have to finish a game ahead, and the tiebreaker with Atlanta remains to be determined.
Five Thirty-eight predicts an 11-12 finish. The Nets have the seventh-toughest remaining strength of schedule, according to Tankathon. And frankly, 11-12 seems generous judging off what we saw last night.
The Bulls won by 44 points on Friday against the Nets to snap their 6-game losing streak.
That is the largest win to snap a single-season losing streak of 6+ games in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/H02xSdj5sP
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 25, 2023
Of their next 15 games, only two are against tanking teams Houston and Charlotte. We could definitely see 2-13 or 3-12. The Magic (twice), Pistons and Rockets are four of their final eight opponents, while Miami still has three games left against the Sixers, three against the Knicks and two against the Cavs. Atlanta has three with the Wizards and two each against the Heat and Celtics.
Remember, the play-in tournament has the No. 7 team hosting the No. 8 team with the winner getting in and the loser hosing the loser of the No. 9-10 game. Only then will the playoff field be set with eight teams. Momentum and a talent drain are working against the Nets. The odds are in their favor, but should they be? Seems like +650 is an enticing wager.
The Nets first half highlights against the Bulls pic.twitter.com/n4x5JjalPF
— Jac Manuell (@JacManuell) February 25, 2023
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