Are the Brooklyn Nets Capable of a First Round Upset?

This past Sunday the Brooklyn Nets clinched a spot in the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-2015 season. After starting the season 8-18 and losing one of their best players in Caris LeVert, the team has shown great resilience and resolve in fighting for a spot in the playoffs. It was the icing on the cake for a team that has been one of the bigger surprises this season.

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The Nets will finish no worse than .500 on the year, which, from where they were at the beginning of the year is quite the accomplishment. They are an entertaining group to watch and make it hard to root against them. Guys like D’Angelo Russell, Joe Harris, and Spencer Dinwiddie are feel-good stories. The team has turned heads and garnered respect from all levels of the NBA. In year 3 of the Sean Marks/Kenny Atkinson era, the team is in the playoffs, something nobody thought possible from the state the Nets were in when they both took over as general manager and head coach.

The worst the Nets will go into the playoffs this year is the 7th seed. If they win their last game against the Heat then they will lock up the 6th seed. Although they still clinch the 6th seed with an Orlando Magic loss. That being said the Nets will face either the Raptors or the Sixers. If they are the 6th seed they would play the Sixers and would face the Raptors if they’re the 7th seed. Although both teams won 50+ games this season and the Nets barely got past 40 wins, the Nets won’t be a pushover in the 1st round. In fact, they have a legitimate case to cause some trouble to for whomever they play in the opening round.

In the season series against the Raptors, the Nets went 1-3. Their only win on the season came in December which actually ended their 8 game losing streak. That win sparked the Nets to go on a 22-5 stretch over the next two months. In the 3 losses, however, the Nets have been rather competitive.

The Nets do have a shot of pulling an upset over Toronto. The Nets can compete with just about every team in the league when their three-point shot is falling. They shoot about 40 threes per game and shoot at a clip of about 35% as a team. Joe Harris plays a big role in this as he is currently the league’s best 3-point shooter percentage wise. Slowing down Kawhi Leonard is a must. But that’s easier said than done. Guys like Lowry, Siakam, and Ibaka also pose a threat. An arduous task for sure but don’t be surprised if the series finds itself in a game 7.

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Now if the Nets were to play the Sixers it seems like an easier task although Philadelphia is still a formidable opponent. Philly acquired both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris at different points throughout the season. As it stands they easily have the best starting lineup outside of Golden State. The Nets have had some success against Philly this season, however. They split the season series and would’ve won the series 3-1 if not for a game-winning 3-pointer from Jimmy Butler with less than a second left in a game earlier this season.

The size of Philadelphia is what poses the biggest threat to the Nets. However, that can be countered by the Nets quickness. Brooklyn likes to run small lineups with non-traditional centers which work to their advantage on offense but can be a hindrance on defense, especially on the boards. Another advantage is the bench. The Nets have a solid bench spearheaded by Spencer Dinwiddie who tends to play well against Philadelphia. For the Nets to pull an upset over Philadelphia it’s obvious they need to contain the starting lineup and keep the games close down the stretch. Brooklyn may not have the firepower that the Sixers have, but they have heart and are a resilient bunch. And all it takes is a few bounces in the right direction for the Nets to see themselves advancing.

How do you feel about the Brooklyn Nets heading into the playoffs? Leave a comment below.

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