Brooklyn will get respiratory room in Japanese Convention playoff push

10:11 PM ET

Malika AndrewsESPN

MILWAUKEE — After Kenny Atkinson fulfills his postgame duties, loosens his tie and boards the workforce aircraft to Indianapolis, he plans to have a glass of pink wine. The pinnacle coach of the Brooklyn Nets is cautious to get too excessive off a win over the Milwaukee Bucks, however he does not need the accomplishment to move with out indulging some.

“Typically you need to rejoice,” Atkinson mentioned. “Then I get up tomorrow morning, get my exercise in and I will be prepared for Indiana.”

On Saturday afternoon, the Nets secured a 133-128 win over the league-leading Bucks. Certain, Milwaukee was with out MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo as a consequence of a sore left calf. However the center of the East is in a good race for playoff spots, and the Nets will not discriminate towards wins. The victory brings Brooklyn’s document to 40-40 and since Brooklyn owns the head-to-head tie-breaker towards the 40-40 Orlando Magic, the Nets transfer as much as sixth seed within the East by way of Saturday’s video games.

The underside of the East’s playoff image is way from finalized. On Sunday, all 5 groups nonetheless jockeying for an Japanese Convention playoff spot – the Nets, Magic, Detroit Pistons, Miami Warmth and Charlotte Hornets – will play.

“For us, it is win or go dwelling actually,” mentioned reserve large Jared Dudley. “I do know we take a look at Miami dropping, this and that, however we need to management our personal destiny.”

Jared Dudley had season-highs in factors (16) and rebounds (6) whereas compiling a game-high plus-minus of +16 in Brooklyn’s 133-128 win in Milwaukee Saturday. Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty

Whether or not or not Brooklyn’s win over the Bucks takes any strain off the workforce will depend on who you ask. Dudley says it does, whereas All-Star D’Angelo Russell maintains that the victory must be wiped from his reminiscence in lower than 24 hours.

“Now it is one sport at a time,” Russell mentioned. “I’m going to say it after Indiana, too, for those who ask me the identical ass query: each sport is large. We have now to deal with it prefer it’s the final one. We will not get comfy. It is too late.”

6-10W-LGB 8thRemaining schedule#6 Nets40-40+Zero.5@IND, vs MIA#7 Magic40-40+Zero.5@BOS, @CHA#eight Pistons39-40–vs CHA, vs MEM, @NY—#9 Warmth38-41-1.Zero@TOR, vs PHI, @BRK#10 Hornets37-42-2.Zero@DET, @CLE, vs ORLEntering Apr. 7

There are a number of situations that safe a Nets playoff berth, however the easiest can be successful their final common season sport at dwelling towards the Warmth. Brooklyn is Zero-2 towards the Pacers thus far this season and 1-2 towards Miami.

Miami is at present on a Three-game dropping streak and on the skin of the playoffs wanting in. The Warmth’s current accidents could assist bolster Brooklyn’s case. Josh Richardson – who’s averaging a profession excessive 16.6 factors for the Warmth – is anticipated to be out the subsequent two weeks with a groin damage.

The Pistons, Nets, Warmth and Magic are separated by fewer than two video games for the final three playoff spots within the Japanese Convention.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson and his employees are nearing completion on contract extensions, as Brooklyn has gone from close to the underside of the league to combating for a playoff spot throughout Atkinson’s three seasons with the workforce.

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It took a collaborative effort for the Nets to topple Milwaukee. Eight Brooklyn gamers scored double-figures, with Russell main the best way with 25 factors and 10 assists. Eric Bledsoe led the best way for Milwaukee with 33 factors and 11 assists. The Nets outscored the Bucks 28-9 off turnovers, the second-most factors Brooklyn has scored off turnovers this season.

4 Nets scored in double figures off the bench, led by wing Caris LeVert’s 24 and Dudley’s 16. Brooklyn’s spread-the-love-around system is one thing that Atkinson mentioned he hopes to implement extra during the last two video games of the common season and within the playoffs, in the event that they get in.

“I had a revelation that we have to play 10 guys,” Atkinson mentioned. “I am not promising I am going to do this each sport. Tonight we determined to unfold it round just a little extra and it labored out for us.”

The Bucks struggled defensively by way of the primary three quarters, giving up 108 factors earlier than the final interval started. With 2:30 remaining, the Bucks led 128-126, after Milwaukee trailed by as many as 12 within the remaining interval.

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Joe Harris confidently drops in a clutch Three-pointer late vs. the Bucks.

The Bucks by no means scored once more, arising empty on their remaining 4 possessions.

A journey by Khris Middleton led to a 42-second Nets possession that in the end ended with a go-ahead Three-pointer from Joe Harris. Popping out of a Bucks timeout, Milwaukee taking pictures guard Sterling Brown missed two free throws, after which Russell’s driving layup with slightly below a minute remaining sealed the win for Brooklyn.

Requested if the win over the East’s No. 1 seed provides him any confidence ought to they face Milwaukee within the playoffs, Atkinson shortly mentioned, “No.”

“I simply assume they’re that good,” Atkinson mentioned. “We would have liked (this win). We would have liked it in its personal little context right here, however we all know if we now have to face ’em within the playoffs, it is a monumental process.”

Now, Atkinson will pop the cork and start to plot his plan of assault towards the Indiana Pacers.

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