Tagged: Knicks

Nets likely coming to end of the road

vincesad032409.jpgCLEVELAND — Twelve games remain for the Nets, and by no means is their schedule as easy as at least one of the teams they’re chasing. That’s why, in all likelihood, 12 games is all that will remain for the Nets this season.
It’s not over yet, but the Nets, who are 2 1/2 games behind Chicago as of this writing and play at Cleveland tomorrow and host the Lakers on Friday, probably need to go 9-3 or 8-4 and hope the Bucks, Bobcats and Bulls stumble.
Charlotte and Milwaukee could, but expecting the Bulls, currently the No. 8 seed, to sink when eight of their remaining 11 games are at home and the Nets to win either 67 percent or 75 percent of their final games might be asking a lot.
Figure something crazy doesn’t happen, like the Pistons totally dropping out, here’s a look at the teams vying for the last spot and their chances of earning the series with the Cavs:
Bulls (33-38; 8 H, 3 A) 8th place
Home: Pistons, Heat, Pacers, Nets, Knicks, Sixers, Bobcats, Raptors
Away: Toronto, Indiana, Detroit
Commentary: They’re explosive and deep and benefiting big time from the acquisitions of John Salmons and Brad Miller before the trade deadline. They also have a favorable schedule with their next three games at home and five of their last six.
Conclusion: A strong finish and wins over the Pistons and the Bulls could move into seventh. But you have to like them for at least eighth with at least 39 wins.
Bobcats (31-39; 4 H; 8 A) 9th place, 1 out
Home: Knicks, Lakers, Heat, Sixers
Away: Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Oklahoma City, Chicago, New Jersey, Orlando
Commentary: They have a few winnable road games, but their home games are tough aside from the Knicks. They end the season on a four-game road trip.
Conclusion: Larry Brown’s team made it interesting, but will come up short with around 35 wins.
Bucks (31-40; 5 H; 6 A) 9th place, 2 out

Home: Lakers, Grizzlies, Hawks, Oklahoma City, Orlando
Away: Toronto, Orlando, Miami, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Indiana
Commentary: They play five of their next six on the road, including four straight, and the one home game is the Lakers. Scott Skiles could get more out of them than expected, but like Brown’s Bobcats, the Bucks probably won’t have enough.
Conclusion: Richard Jefferson may finish ahead of his old team, with 36 wins, but the Nets will have gone 3-1 against the Bucks.
Nets (30-40; 6 Home, 6 Away) 11th place, 2 out
Home: Lakers, Bucks, Pistons, Sixers, Magic, Bobcats
Away: Cleveland, Minnesota, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, New York
Commentary: They’re going to have to steal a game or six or against teams that either are title contenders or likely in the postseason and hope the Bulls collapse. Devin Harris has return possessed from his shoulder injury — perhaps Friday against the Lakers — Vince Carter has to dominate these final 12 contests and the Nets will have to execute better late in games to have a chance.
Conclusion: Most of these teams are healthy and either playing for playoff position or to get in. Figure the Nets have 35 or 36 wins and finish nine or tenth. (We expect them to hold the tiebreaker over Milwaukee and Charlotte)
Pacers (29-42; 8 H, 3 A) 12th place, 4 out
Home: Heat, Wizards, Bulls, Spurs, Raptors, Pistons, Cavaliers, Bucks
Away: Chicago, Oklahoma City, Atlanta
Commentary: They play four of their last five at home.
Conclusion: It’s possible the Pacers could creep up with their rather favorable schedule, but 34 wins sounds about right.
Knicks (28-42, 5 H, 6 A) 4 out
Home: Clippers, Hornets, Raptors, Pistons, Nets
Away: Charlotte, Utah, Denver, Toronto, Chicago, Orlando, Miami
Commentary: They’ve lost five straight, and four of their next five games are against the Hornets and at Charlotte, Denver and Utah.
Conclusion: Why are they even here? They’re a 33-win team — at best.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)