One of the most surprising stories on the year, the Brooklyn Nets have turned heads en route to their 32-33 record on the season so far. Despite losing budding star Caris LeVert to injury in November, the Nets rallied in his absence and have been steadily able to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. D’Angelo Russell is having a breakout season for the Nets and is averaging career highs in every major statistical category except rebounds and blocks. LeVert is back, but struggling a bit in his return. That was to be expected given the nature of his injury, and with time, LeVert should return to his previous form.
In addition to the improved play of Russell, young big man Jarrett Allen is proving to be one of the most reliable young rim protectors in the league. An athletic big with a massive 7’6″ wingspan, Allen has shown impeccable timing on his blocks and is learning how to protect the rim against NBA level athletes without getting into too much foul trouble. A hard rebounder and tenacious defender, Allen projects to be an extremely effective big man in the modern NBA for years to come.
Despite their bright spots, the Nets have stumbled a bit since the All-Star break. Going just 2-4 since the break and dropping three straight games heading into their matchup with the Dallas Mavericks.
Updated Nets Playoff Chances
Even considering the three consecutive losses, most projections give the Nets a very realistic chance to make the NBA playoffs. FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO projection estimated that the Nets have a 63 percent chance to make the playoffs while FiveThirtyEight’s ELO forecast gave the Nets an even 50 percent chance to make the playoffs.
Brooklyn Nets Schedule & Most Likely Playoff Seed
Right now, the Brooklyn Nets sit in the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference but only sit one and a half games back of the Detroit Pistons for the sixth seed. Sitting six and a half games back of the fifth seed Boston Celtics, it is unlikely the Nets are able to catch up to the Celtics with just 17 games to go.
The bottom of the eastern conference is a logjam with the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets, and Miami Heat all sitting at least three games back of the Pistons for the sixth seed. To make matters more complicated, the Nets have the third strongest schedule remaining on the year according to Tankathon.com. With two matchups against the Milwaukee Bucks and one each against the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers, the Nets will need to feast on the Cavaliers and Hawks in their respective matchups and cannot afford to drop one of those games. Caris LeVert beginning to round back into form should hopefully help provide a big shot in the arm to the team moving forward.
The Pistons and Magic both have fairly easy schedules moving forward, with the Magic having the easiest remaining schedule of the bunch. Given the vast difference in strength of schedule between the two teams, the Magic have a very realistic chance to overtake the Nets over the last 17 games.
Expect the Nets to most likely make the playoffs and sneak in at either the 7th or 8th seed. Especially if LeVert continues to get back to his pre-injury ways, the Nets should be able to battle through their difficult schedule en route to the playoffs.