NCAA Tournament, Knicks, Nets, Rose

Nets take multiple losses this week, leading to drop in the standings

The Nets have not been faring well this past week, taking three straight losses to the Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets currently have a 39-34 record and are now seventh in the Eastern Conference, but their standing may drop even lower if they continue to take consistent losses. They have been having trouble facing the top teams in the NBA, meaning less time to improve their record as the end of the season is only a few weeks away.

The Nets lost a close one to the Denver Nuggets on Mar. 19 in a 108-102 loss. The Nuggets looked to take back their win after their loss to the Nets on Mar. 12 in a nail-biter of an ending that had the Nets take the eventual win. Jamal Murray was able to play against the Nets after being hurt during their last meeting, scoring 20 points in the first quarter alone. This offensive output helped the Nuggets gain a comfortable 63-48 lead heading into halftime.

However, it did not stop the Nets from staying in the game, cutting a 20-point lead that the Nuggets had to start the fourth quarter, down to a 7-point game. The Nets were able to rally and outscore the Nuggets 31-17 in the fourth, but their efforts were not enough to garner the win as the Nuggets were able to come out on top and prevented losing their lead. 

Mikal Bridges had 23 points, Nicolas Claxton had 19 points and eight rebounds, while Cam Johnson had 14 points, six rebounds and four steals. Off the bench, Seth Curry shot 4-5 from the 3-point line to grab 12 points. 

Michael Porter Jr. led in points for the Nuggets with 28 points, shooting 10-18 from the field, and 5-9 from the 3-point line. He also grabbed nine rebounds and three assists. Behind him was Murray with 25 points, shooting 4-4 from the 3-point line, while Nikola Jokic put up a triple-double. Jokic had 22 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists, along with two steals. 

The Nets looked to bounce back in their matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers but they could not get it done as they fell 115-109 on Mar. 21. The Nets had a 7-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but squandered the lead as the Cavaliers outscored the Nets 38-25 in the second quarter. The Nets were down by as much as 24 points midway through the third quarter, as they desperately tried to regain some momentum and take the lead.

Johnson and Day’Ron Sharpe were able to make plays and get opportunities at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 11. With a minute left, the Nets were only down by five points, but against the Cavaliers who are currently the top team with the fewest points allowed, it was not possible. Just like the Nuggets, the Cavaliers were able to take a hold of their lead for the rest of the game and grab the win. 

Sharpe was the leading scorer off the bench for the Nets with 20 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Also off the bench, Royce O’Neale had 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. For the starters, Spencer Dinwiddie had 19 points, five rebounds and 11 assists, while  Bridges had 18 points. Johnson had 16 points, while Claxton put up 13 points and eight rebounds. 

Donovan Mitchell led the Cavaliers to victory with his 31 points, while Darius Garland and Evan Mobley both put up 17 points. Jarrett Allen  had a big double-double with 12 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. Off the bench, Caris LeVert had 18 points and two steals, while Cedi Osman had 12 points, going a perfect 4-4 from the 3-point line. 

The Nets’ losing streak continued to linger on Mar. 23 as they took another loss to the Cavaliers in the second game of the back-to-back, losing 116-114. This loss not only makes it their third loss for this week, but their fifth straight loss since losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Mar. 14. While the last meeting with the Cavaliers had the Nets urgently crawling at the lead in the fourth quarter, it was a close game this time around.

The Nets were able to keep it close all throughout, even holding on to an 8-point lead with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter, but failed to hold onto that lead after a 9-2 scoring run by the Cavaliers. This run brought the momentum back for the Cavaliers, who were able to close it out with a 3-pointer by Isaac Okoro with just about one second left to win the game. This loss brought the Nets down from a sixth seed in the East, to now sitting at the seventh seed as the playoffs inch closer each day. 

Mitchell led the Cavaliers in scoring with his 31 points and six rebounds, while Mobley filled up the stat sheet with 26 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks. Garland ran the offense effectively as he had 13 points, eight assists and three steals. Allen with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Okoro put up 11 points. Off the bench, LeVert led the Cavs in scoring with his 12 points. 

For the Nets, Bridges led the way with 32 points and six rebounds. Dinwiddie filled up the box score with 25 points, 12 assists and four rebounds, while Claxton had 11 points and nine rebounds. Off the bench, Joe Harris had 15 points, shooting 5-8 from the 3-point line, while O’Neale had 12 points and eight rebounds.

The Nets are in dire need of wins now if they want to avoid the play-in, but it seems like an inevitability at this point for them. It’s likely that they could make it to the first round of the playoffs, but it’s near-impossible to see the Nets sniff past that first round. While Bridges has been playing exceptionally well for them since the trade, along with the other acquired players like Johnson and Dinwiddie, it’s clear that their output is not enough to garner consistent wins for the team.

The lack of an All-Star caliber player is what is preventing this team from feeling whole, and while Ben Simmons could have been that player, it’s unsure if or when he will come back to play anytime during the rest of the season to see if he is the missing piece. The Nets are in for some rough seasons over the next few years until they look to draft their potential future superstar. For now though, the Nets and the fans would just have to wait even more to find themselves in talks of a championship again. 

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