1. Sunday, April 7: at Indiana Pacers
The final weekend of the season looks about as brutal as it could possibly get for the Brooklyn Nets.
On Saturday, April 6, they face the best team in the NBA on the road. The very next night, Brooklyn faces another tough opponent in Indiana on (you guessed it) the road.
That’s right. In a pair of back-to-back road games, Brooklyn will be forced to play two of the Eastern Conference’s top three teams.
It makes you wonder, how is this even fair?
One can only assume that Brooklyn will be thoroughly exhausted from attempting to slow down one of the league’s best offenses.
Hold on. It gets worse.
Within the span of 24 hours, Brooklyn’s young cast of players will again be called upon to put up big numbers — this time against Indiana’s defense, second-best in the damn league.
Indiana is an old-school, hard-nosed team led by head coach Nate McMillan (a sleeper pick for Coach of the Year). Anchoring this stingy Pacers defense is the breakout center, Myles Turner, and his league-leading 2.7 blocks per game.
Indiana’s All-Star guard, Victor OIadipo, went down with a season-ending quad tendon rupture on Jan. 25. Interestingly, his team hasn’t really missed a beat since losing their star.
Since Oladipo’s exit, Indiana has maintained its winning ways with a 6-5 record.
While many expected Indiana to drop to the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Pacers’ resilient group has stayed in the top half of the standings in third place; ahead of the superteams in Boston and Philadelphia.
Their defense has remained unconquerable. With Oladipo on the floor, the team’s defensive rating sits at a healthy 104.1. With him off it, the number actually drops to 102.3. (For reference, their defensive rating since Jan. 25 is 104.2; right in line with their average when ‘Dipo was healthy).
As said previously, Brooklyn struggles tremendously against top-rated defenses like Indiana. The Nets are also 0-3 this season during the second road games of back-to-backs.
Talk about a recipe for disaster.
If Brooklyn pulls off a win against Indiana, it might be their best victory of the season.