March 25, 2023

The Nets’ five-game road trip ended with a 121-107 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.

Now they travel back to Brooklyn for a four-game home series that will define the rest of the season.

Thunder All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, with the help of rising star Josh Giddey and Net killer Lugentz Dort, ended Brooklyn’s impressive streak, which included convincing victories over two championship contenders from the NBA: the Boston Celtics and the Denver Nuggets. .

Tuesday provided the Nets with a chance to clinch a victory in a winnable game that could have gone a long way toward helping the team’s playoff standing.

Instead, the Nets came up short, just before the schedule changes.

Gilgeous-Alexander had his 38th 30-plus point game of the season, Giddey posted a triple-double and Dort hit six 3-pointers for 24 points and nine assists.

He has scored at least 20 or more in each of his last four games against the Nets.

The Nets, who earned a reputation as the best third-quarter team in basketball over the previous six games, entered halftime up 10 but finished the third quarter down eight.

Mikal Bridges finished with a team-high 34 points and Cam Johnson added 23 on 7-of-13 shooting from the field.

The Nets led by as many as 16 points in the first half before the offense faltered in the third quarter.

And after the Thunder found ways to whittle down the Red’s defense down the stretch, Brooklyn is ready to welcome the NBA’s elite to Barclays Center for a four-game skid that’s sure to test the limits of his newfound No. 1 defense.

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The Nets will host the Western Conference’s No. 3 Sacramento Kings on Thursday, they will host Nikola Jokic and the West’s No. 1 Nuggets in a Sunday morning game, and then they will welcome Donovan Mitchell and the Eastern Conference’s fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in back-to-back games. back games.

The Nets just beat the Nuggets in Denver in one of their best games of the season, but the Nuggets think they’ve been caught sleeping.

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Then the streak continues on the road in Miami against a Heat team that may have turned the corner by sneaking into the No. 7 seed in the East, followed by a trip to Orlando hours later for the second straight aa game against a Team Magic long, athletic and agile.

The Nets came out of the All-Star break with the seventh toughest remaining NBA schedule in all of basketball. They lost their first four games in the break, then won five games in six tries before dropping the ball against the Thunder on Tuesday.

As of right now, the Nets have the 12th-lightest schedule, though their upcoming six-game skid is such a tough list of games for any team to face.

Brooklyn entered a virtual tie with the Knicks for the No. 5 seed Tuesday, and the two teams are tied 2-2 in their season series, meaning the tiebreaker would come down to the division record. The Knicks are 8-8 in the Atlantic Division and the Nets are 7-8 with their last division game coming April 9 in Brooklyn in the season finale against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

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And if the Nets finish with a more favorable record than the Knicks in their latest postseason sprint, they can evade the No. 3 76ers, who are 3 1/2 games ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a much more favorable scenario. first-round opponent if the Nets hold the No. 5 East seed.

If they don’t, with the Heat rising, there’s no guarantee the Nets will keep six, which means every game counts from now on if the Hets want to remain a playoff team this season.

Starting with an upcoming stretch at Barclays Center, hosting Sacramento, Denver and Donovan Mitchell twice, before a trip to Miami to face a motivated Heat team in the first leg of a straight game soon after.