The Brooklyn Nets won two straight games heading into their matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans. With the Pelicans lineup depleted, the Nets squandered a chance at an important win, and the results may be costly.
The Pelicans were severely lacking manpower against the Nets, with Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, and Jrue Holiday all sitting out due to injury. The Pelicans lost both star power and depth for the night, and the Nets looked to capitalize by using their deep roster.
Sadly, this was not the case. The Nets had a painfully slow start, falling behind 15-4 right out of the gate, and although they closed the gap throughout the game, couldn’t take the win. The Nets were doomed by Quincy Pondexter’s 25 points and Omer Asik’s assertiveness in the paint.
If the Nets want to make the playoffs this season, these are the kind of games they need to win. The Pelicans are an above average team, but simply removing superstar Anthony Davis makes them much less formidable. With Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson also sitting out, the Nets fielded a much better team in the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, and should have found a way to win the game.
One asset the Nets failed to use in this game was their depth. The entire starting lineup had a negative plus/minus, and coach Lionell Hollins only called three players off the bench. Had the Nets exploited the Pelicans lack of depth by rotating in more fresh legs, they might have led a more furious comeback in the second half.
Every team loses games they shouldn’t have over the course of a season, but this loss comes at a very inopportune time for the Nets. The next three games see the Nets travel to face the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, then return home to play the league best Golden State Warriors. These three games would be tough matchups for any team, so they may be brutal for the 23-32 Nets.
The Nets currently hold the eighth best record in the Eastern Conference but the competition is becoming very tight. The Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics are all one or less games behind the Nets. A three game losing streak could see the Nets fall into twelfth place in the conference in a matter of days. With the season’s final stretch approaching, the Nets need to win these winnable games.
The Nets have just over a month left to earn themselves a playoff spot. If they can’t beat mid-tier teams missing two starters and a key role player, they can expect to be surpassed in the standings by a hungrier, smarter team before the season’s end.