For the vast majority of the first half of the NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets held the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. But Kyrie Irving’s inability to play home games at Barclays Center, Kevin Durant’s MCL sprain, and James Harden’s pending trade request, had the Nets in a downward spiral, to the tune of an 11-game losing streak. The Nets ended the season on a high note, securing a 4-game winning streak, but they were unable to avoid the play-in tournament, and thus will have to secure one more win before they can officially say that they have clinched a playoff berth.
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Jarrett Allen To Miss Play-in Game Against Nets
Brooklyn will kick off their play-in tournament on Tuesday, April 12, in a matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who they defeated on April 8. If the Nets win that game, they will officially qualify for the playoffs. If Brooklyn loses, they will have to face and defeat the loser of the Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks play-in game. Brooklyn’s road to a playoff berth has gotten significantly easier as Cavaliers All-Star center Jarrett Allen will miss their play-in tournament matchup with the Nets. Allen is still nursing a fractured right finger that he suffered in March, as first reported by Shams Charania of “The Athletic”.
“Cavaliers All-Star center Jarrett Allen is out for Play-In Tournament game vs. Nets on Tuesday night. Allen has been rehabbing a fractured left finger that he suffered March 6,” Charania said via his Twitter account on April 11.
As unfortunate as Allen’s injury is, the Cavaliers’ loss is the Nets’ gain. Per Stat Muse, Allen was averaging 16.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 1.6 assists in 56 games for Cleveland, which earned him his first career All-Star nod this season.
Kevin Durant Weighs in on Nets Play-in Tournament Chances
As much as Nets fans would like to look past the play-in game and fast forward to the playoffs, the reality is that you cannot put the cart before the horse. The Nets have to secure at least one more win before they can even think about a 7-game series in this year’s playoffs. Although they cannot finish the season higher than the 7th seed, the Nets are widely-viewed as one of the favorites to win this year’s title, making the play-in game a must-win for Brooklyn.
But Nets star Kevin Durant says that the team cannot get too phased by the pressure to win. They have to go out, play the game, and live with the results.
“Just go play. Can’t put too much pressure on yourself. You understand how important the [Play-In] game is already,” Durant told reporters after the Nets’ season-finale victory over the Indiana Pacers per NetsDaily. “The best thing to do is just play free, stick to the game plan, and trust your teammates. That’s usually how you approach these games. We’ll see what happens.”
Allen’s unavailability for the Cavaliers against the Nets in the play-in tournament makes it an even more vital game for Brooklyn to win. Losing would mean having to play against either LaMelo Ball and the Hornets or Trae Young and the Hawks in a one-game-to-win situation. The Nets lost to both teams during the regular season.