But when thinking about things a little more critically, which is necessary at this late point in the season, it suddenly becomes evident that this essentially holds the value of a playoff game for the Nets — not because they thirst to send a strong message to an opponent that handed them losses following their first two meetings this season. And not for immediate or long term confidence boosting purposes either.
Instead, this will possess the significance of a postseason game because of the current Eastern Conference standings.
If the Nets want to get into the playoffs with the highest seeding possible, this will be the time to start acting like they’re in the 10th or 9th slot looking to claw their way in. Entering the nation’s capitol tonight, Brooklyn boasts the 5th best record in the East at 33-30. Who comes behind them with the sixth best?
That’s right. Washington stands at only one game behind the Nets in the loss column with a 34-31 mark.
There may be what seems like an ample amount of time to make up just one game remaining in this regular season, but that’s not a chance anyone wants to take. Obviously Brooklyn does not want to settle for the fifth spot, but if things do play out in a way where that ends up being their best bet, they’re going to want it. No matter what the case will be, one head-to-head meeting now could be the deciding factor down the line.
But there’s also more to it. With the East being as soft as tissue paper this season, the third spot is definitely up for grabs amongst teams four through six. The fourth place Chicago Bulls are only two games in the loss column behind the third seeded Toronto Raptors, while the Nets and Wizards are just three and four back, respectively.
Playing against a team that is fighting for the same thing you are means the intensity must heighten dramatically — so dramatically that it looks like a playoff game.