The Brooklyn Nets wanted to get out of the bottom two spots in the play-in tournament, but they weren’t able to do it even after an incredible game from Kevin Durant, who finished with 55 points, seven rebounds and three assists while shooting 19 of 28 from the field and 8 of 10 from beyond the arc.
The Slim Reaper was nigh-unstoppable, and put out a reminder to everyone that he is still likely the most dangerous scorer in the NBA. The man hit from everywhere, and tried everything in his power to bring the Nets the win. Durant is only the second person to score at least 50 points in a loss this season, and ironically, the other person on that list is Trae Young, who dropped 56 in a 136-131 defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Unfortunately, as has been the case recently, the only other person that contributed meaningfully to the game was Kyrie Irving, who ended the game with 31 points and six assists while shooting 12 of 32 from the field. The other seven Nets that saw game time combined for a measly 29 points in their 122-115 defeat to the Atlanta Hawks. In his postgame interview, Irving was adamant about how important the final four games of the season are.
The loss pushed the Nets to the 10th seed, where they’re now behind the Charlotte Hornets, who have the same 40-38 record but are ahead because they own the tiebreaker in the season series. The Hawks, whom the Nets beat 2-1 over the season, desperately needed the victory to climb up to eight, where they’ll have two chances to make the postseason.
With a manageable final schedule, where they’ll see the Rockets, Knicks, Cavaliers and Pacers, Brooklyn now need to win every game and hope the Hawks and Hornets slip up. Otherwise, they’re looking at needing to win two games to make the postseason, and that brings all sorts of unpredictability with it. Just ask the Warriors and Grizzlies about last season’s play-in tournament.
On the flip side, things are also going to be interesting for whoever finishes in the top two spots in the Eastern Conference. As of this moment, it’s the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks, and I’m not even sure either team want to face the Nets in the first round. LaMarcus Aldridge and Seth Curry will be closer to being full strength and coming back to contribute by the time the postseason rolls around. The Heat have been up and down in the last quarter of the season, while the Bucks went through an epic seven-game series with the Nets last year, which saw Durant almost single-handedly will his way to a Game 7 win.
Things just keep getting spicier, and I’m all for it.