Many NBA pundits wouldn’t bat an eyelash at the question of whether or not the final few regular season games of select teams could heavily impact them once the playoffs roll around.
The Brooklyn Nets, however, are not one of those teams.
Having lost their last two games, the Nets cannot afford to lose two of the three games remaining on their schedule before their first round playoff series.
This is not the kind of team that’s proven it can flip a switch just because the stakes have become higher. Yes, Brooklyn did transform from a team that was the victim of what seemed like countless blowout losses before the New Year into a group that learned how to win with considerable consistency, but that isn’t enough to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Make no mistake about it, regular season wins can do some good for confidence purposes in the playoffs. A perfect example of that for the Nets will be the lack of fear they’ll possess if they encounter the Miami Heat at some point down the road. But ending the regular season with a rough patch would have an even greater psychological impact on them for one simple reason.
Jason Kidd’s Nets have not proven anything about what kind of playoff team they are and whether or not they are mentally prepared enough. Since this is only their first year together, they haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet.
We all remember what happened last season, losing Game 7 of the quarterfinals to the Chicago Bulls in Brooklyn, but that team was coached by P.J. Carlesimo and clearly lacked leadership on the floor. While a better performance should be expected, does that necessarily mean the Brooklyn will be able to outlast their opponent this time around? There’s no true frame of reference to go by with this squad.
Which is why these last few games, even if the final seeding is pretty much determined, are enormous for the Nets. They need their confidence to be as high as possible entering the battlefield that is the NBA playoffs.