Brooklyn Nets

Nets stay stagnant at 11th place as NBA Playoffs approach

The Brooklyn Nets lost three of their last five games last week, leaving them at 11th in the Eastern Conference and in a tough spot to dig themselves out of over the next month. They are three games behind the Atlanta Hawks, currently in 10th place. With the playoffs just around the corner, the clock is ticking for Brooklyn as they struggle to climb up the standings. Losing three of their last five has put a strain on their record and an increased urgency for the Nets, who hope to improve their record in the coming weeks. They currently hold a record of 26-39.

Nets struggle to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 

The Nets were defeated 106-102 by the Memphis Grizzlies, who broke their five-game losing streak. The consecutive victories over the Hawks did not give the Nets enough momentum leading into Monday's game, as they could not get a continuous winning streak going. The Grizzlies outrebounded the Nets and garnered 25 second-chance points, along with a season-high 25-point performance by Luke Kennard.

The Grizzlies had 15 offensive rebounds that were turned into points, along with 35 defensive rebounds to take advantage of the struggling Nets' offense. The injury bug affected both teams with Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr, Marcus Smart and Desmond Bane from the Grizzlies and Cam Thomas and Ben Simmons out as well in Monday's matchup. This injury plague did not stop the Grizzlies from having a better overall game than the Nets. They struggled on both ends, getting outrebounded 50-33 and shooting an awful 56.7% from the free-throw line. 

Nicolas Claxton led the Nets with 21 points and six rebounds, while Cam Johnson had 18 points, five rebounds, and two steals. Mikal Bridges had 14 points, five assists, and two steals, while Dennis Schroder had a near-double-double with 13 points and nine assists. 

For the Grizzlies, Santi Aldama had 12 points, five rebounds, and four assists, while Vince Williams Jr. had 11 points, six assists, and two steals. Jake LaRavia had a double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals off the bench. 

Nets bounce back in win over Philadelphia 76ers

The Nets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in a 112-107 win, where the 76ers were without both of their all-stars for the night. They failed to take advantage of the injury-plagued Grizzlies on Monday but were able to return the favor to another injury-plagued team. Without their dominant big man in Joel Embiid, the Nets took control of the rebound game and had better scoring chances in the paint. The injuries continued for the Nets as Johnson sprained his ankle after getting fouled by Kyle Lowry in the first quarter. 

This did not falter the Nets as Schroder and Dorian Finney-Smith combined for 40 points to lead the Nets to victory. The 76ers controlled the first half with a double-digit lead, but Schroder cut the deficit by a large margin with eight straight points for the Nets. The game was close in the fourth, but a pair of free throws by Bridges sealed the deal in the final seconds as the Nets grabbed an important and much-needed win against the 76ers. 

Finney-Smith and Schroder each had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Nets. Claxton had a double-double with 17 points and ten rebounds while blocking four shots. Bridges had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. 

For the 76ers, Tobias Harris had a near double-double with 18 points, nine rebounds, and four assists, while Cameron Payne had 15 points. Off the bench, Kelly Oubre Jr. had an offensive explosion with a team-high 30 points, six rebounds, and four assists. 

Pistons’ win over Nets make it first home win for Detroit since January

In another critical game, the Nets took a 118-112 loss over the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons won their first home game in over two months after dropping nine games in a row at Little Caesars Arena. The Pistons started strong with an 11-0 run in the first quarter that quickly expanded to a 26-8 run, but the Nets ended the quarter by cutting down the deficit to just ten points. In their second game down by 18 points, they had the opportunity to repeat their previous victory, but could not repeat their successes a second time around.

Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham combined for 26 points in the fourth quarter, leading the Pistons to victory. In the final minutes of the game, the Pistons ran up the scoreboard with a 9-0 run after being tied at 98. The Nets could not make a run of their own, nor could they put a stop to the strong offensive performances of Cunningham and Ivey, leading to the loss.

For the Nets, Schroder had 31 points and eight assists, while Claxton had a double-double with 15 points, ten rebounds, and three blocks. Bridges had 13 points and seven assists, while Finney-Smith also had 13 points and three steals. Off the bench, Walker IV had 21 points and four rebounds.

Ivey scored 34 points for the Pistons, while Cunningham had a double-double with 32 points, 11 assists, and five rebounds. Ausar Thompson scored 14 points and seven rebounds, while Jalen Duren had 12 points and 14 rebounds, including four assists and two steals.

Charlotte Hornets snap six-game losing streak in win over the Nets

The Charlotte Hornets defeated the struggling Nets, 110-99, and created a deeper hole for Brooklyn that they may be unable to escape. Despite Thomas' return after suffering an ankle injury, he was restricted to only 30 minutes on the court, and his time on the court was not enough to take down the Hornets.

Even without their starter LaMelo Ball, who has missed 20 games this season, the Hornets were able to take advantage of the Nets' man-to-man defense and blow by the defenders to get easy baskets. They struggled on both sides as the Hornets built a double-digit lead for themselves and did not fold, holding onto the lead and grabbing the win. While the Nets cut their deficit to single digits, the Hornets took advantage of Brooklyn's crucial missed possessions and extended the lead back to double digits for the victory. 

Thomas scored a game-high 31 points for the Nets, while Bridges had 19 points and four assists. Claxton had another double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while dishing out four assists and swatting two shots. Schroder filled up the stat sheet with 12 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. 

For the Hornets, Miles Bridges had a double-double with 24 points, ten rebounds, and four assists, while Brandon Miller eclipsed the 20-point mark with 23 points and seven rebounds. Nick Richards had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Vasilije Micic also had a double-double with 12 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds.

Nets take advantage of injury bugged Cleveland Cavaliers for the win

The Nets defeated another injury-plagued team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, 120-101. Thomas's 29-point performance helped lead them to victory after his minutes were restricted in his return game against the Charlotte Hornets. The Cavaliers were without star players: Donavan Mitchell, who was out with left knee soreness, and starters Evan Mobley and Max Strus. 

The Nets took over the second half with a 44-29 run in the third quarter and held onto their lead this time around in the fourth quarter to create a blowout win. Without their starters, the Nets used it to their advantage on both ends of the floor, especially on the offensive side. They only trailed for about a minute early in the third quarter throughout the whole game but took the lead right back for the win.

Thomas had 29 points, seven rebounds, and five assists for the Nets, while Bridges also had a 20-point performance with 25 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Schroder had 17 points, eight assists, and two steals, while Claxton had a double-double with 16 points and ten rebounds.

Georges Niang led the Cavaliers with a team-high 20 points, while Jarrett Allen had a near double-double with 15 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks. Darius Garland had 14 points and five assists, while Isaac Okoro had 11 points and four rebounds.

What’s Next for the Nets?

The Nets needed to take advantage of these injured teams as they inch closer to April. They could not get it done against winnable games such as the game against the Grizzlies and Pistons. The Nets were in panic mode and, luckily, could not falter completely. With Thomas fully back in the lineup again, he will surely be an energy-type guy to help the offense. Walker IV has excelled off the bench and is a much-needed asset for the Nets to win these upcoming games. 

The Nets also need to move on from Simmons this coming off-season. It was recently announced that he would be out for the remainder of the season because of his back injury. While he was effective in his return, his injuries are too much to handle, and the Nets should move on and grab another All-Star-level player or build one of their own. 

What’s most important now is taking advantage of the last month of the season, where top teams may give up some wins to ease themselves into the playoffs or take advantage of teams with injury-riddled lineups. Every game is important to the Nets if they want a chance at the playoffs. 

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