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Nets resilience makes them contenders despite obstacles – The Denver Post

The Nets play their best basketball with their backs to the wall. That’s why their championship hopes are still alive in what feels like a lost season.

The Nets trailed by 17 points at halftime and faced a deficit as big as 21 in the third quarter before turning on the jets to make it a respectable game in the fourth quarter. That’s when Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving took charge of leading their team to a 110-98 victory over their cross-town rivals, the Knicks, at the Garden.

The fact that their backs were against the wall against a 12th-ranked Knicks team in the East without starters Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Derrick Rose is ominous heading into the deciding final two games of the regular season before the tournament. Tuesday dam.

The Knicks (35-45) are 10 games below -.500. They have become synonymous with failed leads, failed late-game executions and fumbling after a fourth seed last season. This team built a lead that would have swallowed the most.

But the Nets continued to prove they aren’t most teams.

The Knicks aren’t like most teams either — they’re not like most teams standing between the Nets and the Larry O’Brien championship trophy. The road to the NBA Finals will undoubtedly pass through pit stops in Miami, Milwaukee, Boston or Philadelphia. The Knicks don’t even belong in the same phrase as those teams.

Which makes Wednesday’s result polarizing. The Nets trailed by more than 20 points, at times seeming disinterested in winning a game they needed, before showing the Knicks on home soil. Before showing their so-called big brother who really is the boss of the Big Apple.

There are two ways to look at the glass, and both are correct: The Nets should never have trailed so much against such a small opponent, but they showed their spine and determination to come back via a 33-point swing for guarantee their chances of finishing. seventh to the east.

The Nets are one of the hardest teams to read in all of basketball. They execute few to no offensive sets. Their effort fluctuates daily. Their only identifiable actions are “getting the ball to Durant or Irving and out of the way”, or the occasional pick-and-roll, which results in a rim attempt, kicking a shooter, or, waiting it out. , the ball in the hands of Durant or Irving. Their defense picks and chooses which quarters, sometimes which games, they want to show.

Still, when the Nets are playing inspired defense like they were in the second half against the Knicks, limited offensive play is enough. That’s why you’re investing over $300 million in your two superstar scorers.

They can get you a shopping cart while most others can’t. And they can make you win out of nothing.

What looked like a lost game and a lost season at halftime still looked like a team with at least a chance of winning a championship. There isn’t too big of a deficit for the Nets to overcome.

Now there’s one more track left to come back to: trailing in the standings as the eighth seed trying to make the NBA Finals.

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