With simply over three weeks left within the NBA common season, the Nets are sixth within the Jap Convention, with a practical probability of ending as excessive as fourth or as little as seventh, which might put them within the play-in spherical.

So it is smart for the new-look workforce to get into postseason mode now.

They are going to face a tricky check throughout a four-game homestand, which can open Thursday night time once they host one of many prime groups within the West, the stunning Kings, at Barclays Heart.

Head coach Jacque Vaughn acknowledged that he wanted to arrange his squad for the following step, which is why he leaned on his starters closely throughout their loss at Oklahoma Metropolis on Tuesday, even after their hard-fought win Sunday within the unforgiving surroundings of mile-high Denver.

“I form of went reverse and performed the beginning 5 heavy minutes,’’ Vaughn mentioned following the loss Tuesday that ended a 3-2 highway journey. “There’s one thing psychological and psychological about that. Are you able to be on the finish of a highway journey and by some means handle to get a win? Are you able to play heavy minutes and fear concerning the subsequent day the following day? So it was a bit little bit of a problem for that group [Tuesday] to see how they are going to reply.”

Cam Johnson, one of many Knicks beginning 5, logged heavy minutes within the loss towards the Thunder alongside his fellow starters in preparation for playoffs.
Noah Ok. Murray-NY Publish

For a lot of the primary half towards the Thunder, the Nets did. However they had been on the mistaken facet of an 18-3 third-quarter run and by no means recovered.

Their schedule for the following 4 video games at Barclays Heart gained’t make it any simpler.

The Kings shall be adopted by the Nuggets, who haven’t performed properly of late, however stay the highest seed within the West.

Two straight video games towards a Cavaliers workforce that’s at present in fourth place within the Jap Convention will finish the homestand.

The Nets need to shut the hole on the Cavaliers and the fifth-seeded Knicks to verify they keep away from the play-in spherical.

The beginning 5 of Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Nic Claxton and Dorian Finney-Smith every logged at the very least 34 minutes on Tuesday.

Bridges, who continues to play at an elite degree, averaging 26.3 factors per recreation since arriving in Brooklyn, performed 38 minutes in every of the earlier two video games after he logged 47 in an extra time loss at Minnesota final Friday.

Mikal Bridges looks to drive to the basket as Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray defends.
Mikal Bridges seems to drive to the basket as Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray defends.

“That’s what playoff basketball is about,’’ Vaughn mentioned of the heavy workload for his starters. “You’re going to should play each different day, and also you’re going to play excessive minutes. Are you able to get a win? Are you able to reply the following day? So prepping that a bit bit was form of my psychological approach of it. We simply didn’t get it performed [Tuesday]. So we should always have some juice to play.”

It’s a lesson Johnson mentioned he has taken to coronary heart.

“The largest factor is we all know methods to play to win: scrappy, gutty, and soiled,’’ Johnson mentioned. “We’re not taking part in fairly on the market. That’s how the sport begins to favor us, so I feel we have to get again to that and compete at a excessive degree.”

Bridges lamented what he thought was an absence of power on the Nets’ half and added they should maintain the underdog mentality they’ve had since he, Johnson and Dinwiddie had been acquired within the trades of stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“Once we’re up going into the half, we have now to play like we’re down,’’ Bridges mentioned of the Nets’ excellent mindset. “I feel we’re good after we’re down on the half and we play with a spark. If we’re up on the half, we have now to play like we’re down and play with that power.”

Bridges has performed his half, main the Nets in scoring in six of their final seven video games.

Durant and Irving had been nonetheless on the Nets the final time they confronted the Kings, though Irving was serving a suspension.

The Kings gained in a 32-point rout in Sacramento.

The Kings are properly on their approach to proving they’re for actual, because of De’Aaron Fox and Domantis Sabonis.

Further reporting by Brian Lewis