The Nets made it more difficult on themselves than it needed to be, but when it was all over in Indiana on Friday, Brooklyn came away with a 117-109 win over the Pacers that clinched home court advantage for them in the first round of the playoffs.
Brooklyn led by as many as 24 points in the third quarter, before seeing it disappear completely after a three-pointer from Lance Stephenson put the Pacers up two with five minutes remaining in the game. The Nets regained their composure, however, and closed the game on an 18-8 run to seal it.
Deron Williams continued his strong play of late, and finished with 33 points and 14 assists. Afterward, he held out hope that his team might be able to climb up a position in the standings before the season is through.
“We could still get the 3 seed,” Williams said, via the Associated Press. “We have to hope for Indiana to lose some games, but it’s still possible. I think we have a good thing going right now.”
The win ensured that the Nets will finish no worse than fourth in the East, which will get them a first round date against either the Hawks or the Bulls. Atlanta currently leads Chicago for the fifth seed by a half game after Friday night’s action.
As for Brooklyn overtaking Indiana for that three seed, it’s a bit of a tall order considering that there are only three games remaining in the regular season, and the Pacers do hold a two-game lead over the Nets for that spot.
The schedule is likely what is giving Brooklyn its glimmer of hope. The Pacers are on the road against the Knicks and the Celtics before finishing at home against the Sixers, while the Nets play at Toronto before hosting the Wizards and then the Pistons to close out the regular season.
The Pistons will start Reggie Jackson at point guard, and they signed Ish Smith to provide better backup at the position.
The competition for the third point guard spot is heating up.
With Lorenzo Brown and Ray McCallum already signed to unguaranteed deals, Detroit is adding undrafted Old Dominion guard Trey Freeman.
Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops:
The Pistons have just 14 players – one shy of the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries. The final spot will very likely go to a point guard.
Brown and McCallum should be favored in the competition, because they’re more NBA-ready. A president/coach, Stan Van Gundy is more prone to covet the player who can step in immediately.
Freeman’s partial guarantee is likely designed to entice him to play in the D-League for a low base salary. The Pistons can waive him in the preseason and then assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, though he’d become an NBA free agent.
Freeman is working to become a better distributor after playing as a go-to scorer in college. A solid mid-range shooter, he must extend his range beyond the arc. It’d also help if he got to the rim more, and it seems he has the bounce to do that.
For an undrafted player, he has nice tools. They’ll probably just need to be refined in the D-League.
But even if that’s the intention, Freeman at least gives himself a chance first of upsetting Brown and McCallum in the race for third point guard.
With 32 wins and missing the playoffs, last season wasn’t exactly what the Knicks hoped for. However, last season also came with hope in the form of Kristaps Porzingis.
And there were highlights. Check out the team’s Top 10 plays, courtesy NBA.com.
It starts with some Derrick Williams moments, and ends with a Jose Calderon game winner, but there are moments from players the fans actually like in between.
At this point, there is zero chance Russell Westbrook‘s posts are a coincidence.
First. he posted a video of himself singing along to Lil Uzi Vert’s “Now I Do What I Want.”
Then came the shoe ad that was another little jab at now Warriors Kevin Durant.
Now comes Westbrook’s return to karaoke posts, this time singing Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake.”
Apparently, Westbrook and Durant are having one rough teenage breakup.
One of the great stories of last season was the return of Paul George to All-Star level form (then to watch him be crucial to the USA winning gold this summer).
It was a great story because vintage Paul George was so great. Watch this throwback video of him blowing by LeBron James and dunking over Chris Andersen from a few years back — this is vicious.
By the way, if you’re not following NBA history on Twitter and Instagram, you’re doing it wrong.