The Brooklyn Nets recently enjoyed a three-game win streak with a couple impressive wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and division rivals, the Toronto Raptors. However, fresh off a horrific loss to the Wizards, the Nets may see tougher times ahead through the end of February.
The Nets next seven games are all on the road, with All-Star weekend in the middle to break things up. This stretch is concluded with a home game in March that pits the Nets against the league-best Golden State Warriors. In total, this eight game slate includes six games against teams with winning records and five against teams who would currently qualify for the playoffs. These teams include:
- Milwaukee Bucks: 28-23, Sixth in East
- Memphis Grizzlies: 38-13, Second in West
- Los Angeles Lakers: 13-38, 14th in West
- Denver Nuggets: 19-32, 11th in West
- New Orleans Pelicans: 27-24, Ninth in West
- Houston Rockets: 35-16, Third in West
- Dallas Mavericks: 35-18, Fifth in West
- Golden State Warriors: 40-9, First in West (Home)
This a brutal schedule for any team under any circumstances. The first seven games taking place on the road and the Nets general inconsistency and under-performance in the 2015 calender year makes this an even worse task. The Nets will take on four of the top five teams in the West, a conference that is loaded with talent top to bottom.
Brooklyn’s only solace in the next eight games is a back to back games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, though the Nuggets are only slightly behind the Nets in terms of wins. How will the Nets fare after this stretch is all said and done?
As stated, although the Nuggets are no push-over the Nets currently hold a better record, and are 3-1 since the return of Deron Williams. The Lakers and Nuggets games can be penciled in as a two game win streak.
The middle-tier of games in this stretch will be games the Nets will have to play very well in order to win. These games Monday tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks, on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans, and taking on the Houston Rockets who are expected to be without Dwight Howard.
The Bucks have overachieved in the absence of rookie Jabari Parker, and the result of Monday’s game should be a good benchmark for the Nets playoff chances in the Eastern Conference this season. The Pelicans aren’t a flashy team, but feature the league’s next super-star in Anthony Davis. Lastly, the Nets will probably have a hard time containing James Harden, but should be able to exploit the absence of Dwight Howard with Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee, and Kevin Garnett. If the Nets play their cards right, the should break positive at 2-1 in these three games.
The remaining games are much more difficult for the Nets, though not impossible to win as the Nets showed taking down the Clippers recently. These games consist of the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies on the road, as well as the Warriors at home in the finale of this slate.
The Nets could easily go 0-3 in these games, and most likely will. The Mavericks are loaded with talent possessing one of the league’s best starting fives. Coach Lionel Hollins will be facing his former team in the Memphis Grizzlies, something that will both be interesting to see and could play to the Nets favor possibly. However, the Grizzlies are soaring to heights that not even Hollins could take them to, and are a very formidable opponent this season.
The Nets get a cruel present after returning home following seven straight on the road in the form of the league’s best team. The Warriors are playing on another level this year, and are cruising with the NBA’s best record. The only positive indicator for this game is the Nets recent loss to the Atlanta Hawks. A similar team, both in record, conference standing, and roster makeup, the Nets played with the Hawks for most of four quarters in Atlanta. Yes, they lost, but it was a close loss to the league’s only other 40 win team.
Following these predictions, the Nets could escape this stretch at an even 4-4. This would actually be a very positive result for the team moving forward this season. It would continue a push towards the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, and, while more of a moral win, prevent the Atlanta Hawks from taking a lottery pick this year from the Nets, but rather give them a mid-first round pick.
The Nets next eight games could define the rest of the season. If they struggle, they could slide for the and look to start a rebuild for the future.