In another ugly season for the Eastern conference, three teams with a sub .500 record might make it into the playoffs. Right now, thanks to a 111-106 win, the Brooklyn Nets will probably be one of them, keeping the Indiana Pacers out.
The Pacers have won just twice in their last 10 games while the Nets have won four in a row, enjoying the injuries to both Pacers shooting guards. C.J. Miles played only six minutes and left with a wrist injury. His replacement, Rodney Stuckey, isn’t 100% healthy, but had to play and play he did, badly, hitting just 1-of-8 from the field to finish with 4 points.
Roy Hibbert suddenly turned back to his form from last year’s postseason (7 points, 3 rebounds, 3-of-11 from the field), finding it very difficult to slow down Brook Lopez, scoring 24 points to lead the Nets. Uncharacteristically, Lopez was actually dominant on the boards as well with 11 rebounds. In any game the Pacers have to try and keep up with teams instead of slowing them down, they don’t really stand a chance.
So where does this leave both teams? The Nets at 33-40, 8th in the East. Half a game behind the Miami Heat, half a game ahead of the Boston Celtics (33-41) and 1.5 games above the Pacers (32-42). After failing to trade away every asset they had up to the deadline, they decided to give it whatever they have left in the tank and make the playoffs. They don’t have a first round pick in the upcoming draft anyway.
Joe Johnson, one of the players the Nets were trying to get rid of up to six weeks ago, scored 21 points and Alan Anderson added 20 from the bench. Deron Williams finished with a nice stat line of 11 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists, Jarrett Jack scored 13 off the bench and Markel Brown who is having some nice moments in his rookie year scored 10 points.
The Pacers aren’t out of it, but ever since the talk of Paul George coming back surfaced, it’s been all downhill. Obviously, it has nothing to do with him; they’re not a very good team. But the further their chances of making the playoffs seem to be, the less likely it is we’ll see George making a return in what’s left of the 2014-2015 regular season. Maybe from that aspect, it’s for the best they’ll be sitting this postseason out and not risking their franchise player even further.