The Brooklyn Nets have squandered 2 opportunities to gain some space in the lower part of the East, but have another chance Saturday in Miami.
A seven-game stretch that appeared to provide the Brooklyn Nets with a chance to pull away from the other teams fighting for the last three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference has begun poorly, with the Nets being physically dominated and outworked in the first two games.
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The Nets (32-32) have started 0-2 in this crucial stretch, dropping their second straight game at home Friday night to the Charlotte Hornets, 123-112.
The next opportunity comes Saturday night when Brooklyn visits the Miami Heat (27-34) on the back end of a back-to-back.
Over the last two games, the Nets have surrendered 124 points per game, have allowed the Hornets and Washington Wizards each to rack up 68 points in the first half.
They’ve been outrebounded in those two games by a whopping 97-77 margin, including surrendering 27 offensive rebounds while securing just 14 of their own.
Brooklyn has shot the ball well over the last two performances, a combined 48.5 percent, but the Wizards and Hornets effectively negated their 3-point shooting.
The Nets have shot just 26.9 percent (18-for-67) over the last two games from long range, with opposing defenses particularly making it difficult for sharpshooter Joe Harris to find space. Harris is just 3-for-9 from deep over the last two games following a seven-game stretch during which he shot 64.1 percent from behind the arc.
Miami has been scuffling of late as well, losers of four of its last five and just 2-7 in its last nine games.
However, the Nets just got worked over at home by a Washington club that had lost four straight and a Charlotte team that came in with three consecutive losses.
It’s the wrong time of year to be serving as a get-well tonic for opponents fighting for the same playoff spots that your team is battling to lock up.
Defensively, the Nets have simply been gouged the last two games since holding the San Antonio Spurs to 85 points in a lopsided win on Monday night.
Against the Wizards and Hornets, Brooklyn has allowed 49.5 percent shooting and 120 points in the paint, as well as surrendering 30 fast-break points (they average just 11.1 allowed per game) and a ridiculous 47 points off turnovers.
The Heat have been struggling of late, but present some challenges the Nets will have to address in order to reverse their slide.
Here are three things to watch.