In a postponed game from the encounter that was cancelled back in January due to bad weather, the Brooklyn Nets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 106-96 to move a step closer towards a playoff spot, enjoying the rest their opponents were giving to some of their best players.
The Blazers left LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Chris Kaman at home, which meant a much easier time for the Nets. Brook Lopez saw his brother and found the best of him for the sibling duel, scoring 32 points on 15-of-25 from the field, most of them when guarded by his twin. Deron Williams scored 24 points in another example of why Damian Lillard is such a poor defender on his bad days and Thad Young scored 20, including the play of the night with a one-handed dunk of Meyers Leonard.
The only game across the NBA last night because of the NCAA tournament final put the Nets in a solid position to make the playoffs, opening a two game lead over both the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat who are currently outside the playoff picture at 34-43. The Boston Celtics are 8th in the East with a 35-42 record, one game behind the Nets.
We’re trying to close the door on those other teams and the only way you can do that is by winning.
The Blazers could have used the win as well, but it seems that their hopes of getting home court advantage in the first round of the postseason are deteriorating. With the loss they fall to 50-27. They are fourth because they’re about to win their division, but the Clippers have a 1.5 game lead over them and the Spurs have a one game lead, despite the lower seed. If the Blazers meet either one of them in the playoffs, they won’t have home court advantage.
Damian Lillard wasn’t half bad on the offensive end with 36 points, including going 6-of-11 from beyond the arc in possibly his best offensive performance of the last three months. Yes, his defense has been declining, but the Blazers might need a little bit more of this if they’ve to overcome the odds in the postseason, which seem to be stacked against them.
I didn’t put any pressure on myself but I knew that without LA, Nico and Kaman, I would have to probably raise the level of my play and try to do a little bit more.
Meyers Leonard scored 17 points in his rare lineup appearance while C.J. McCollum, in the lineup to make it a three-man backcourt for the Blazers most of the game, scored 15 points. If the Blazers can earn a little bit more confidence from their bench players through these starting lineup cameos, maybe losing this game will prove to be beneficial.