It’s time for the Play-In Tournament.
Brooklyn ended the regular season on a 4-game win streak and won 12 of their 17 games on Sunday. They also won the championship and then secured the 7th seed for the Eastern. The team will play host to their opponents the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday the 12th of April. The game will be telecast on TNT and will begin at 7:07 p.m. ET. (No coverage of the YES. The rights holders in the national market have their own exclusive rights.)
“The routine season got us ready for this time. It’s about taking a break from what we’ve learned over the year, and focusing on your character as a player and playing with a relaxed mind,” Kevin Durant said. “I believe that’s what teams that are successful do this time, which is to lean on your efforts throughout the season. We’re eagerly awaiting this chance. It’s the initial step for us to make it into the playoffs. We have to be on top of things.”
The Nets have the advantage of just needing one win to earn an automatic playoff spot. If they win on the following Tuesday Brooklyn has the seventh seed and is scheduled to play with the Boston Celtics. If the Nets are eliminated from the game they will play an opponent who is a win-or-go-home game-winner of 9/10’s Play-In ( Charlotte Hornets against. Atlanta Hawks) on April 15 to be the 8-seed.
“Let’s take on the Cavaliers,” Kyrie Irving said. “This is an exciting moment in the season playing against teams like that of the Cavaliers is something you can anticipate. A good excuse to stay home and think about the events that occurred last night, take your lessons from them, and carry the lessons you learned into Tuesday’s game because they’ll adjust, we’re going to make adjustments as well, and it’s likely to be a full-on battle.”
It’s the first time Durant and Irving are participating in this tournament. Play-In Tournament — an event that was launched in the last season. It’s also new territory for players of the Nets as a team.
“Just play. Don’t place too much stress on yourself. You’re aware of how important the Play-In game is already. The best way to approach it is to play freely adhere to the plan of play and be a good friend to teammates,” said Durant on the eve of Tuesday’s Play-In Matchup. “That’s generally how you play these games. Let’s see what happens.”
It’s safe for us to say that players from the Nets and Cavaliers know a great deal about one another. Brooklyn played host to Cleveland on Friday night to earn an advantage in the standings due to the tiebreaker. The Nets did it in the typical Nets style, blowing away a 17-point lead, making the victory more difficult than it had to be. All in all, Brooklyn ripped off a 3-1 advantage in the series against their play-in rival.
It could be a blessing, or a solution of both Nets as well as the Cavaliers to have played each other just less than a week. Both teams are familiar with the other’s strategies and how they prefer to play, and most importantly, what changes could be expected on Tuesday night.
“Helpful Both teams, I could imagine. I’m not sure which advantage this brings. It’s the same for the two teams.” added Steve Nash when he played the Cavaliers last week prior to their match-up in play-in. “It’s who plays better wins.”
In previous seasons, the 7-seed, as well as the 8-seed, were guaranteed playoff spots at the conclusion of regular-season play. In the last season, it was not the case. There were many players who had negative views regarding the play-in, especially LeBron James. Brooklyn’s top pair has no issue with the play-in.
“I did not have any thoughts on it, To be honest. It’s just the way you get,” Durant said. “Getting two teams competing to play for the position, it’s awesome. Fans like it. There are no complaints from me.”
“Well, No. 1 I’m thinking that somebody is in the backroom ‘hip-hip cheering for this play-in event. Last year, you had Steph along with LeBron. This year, you’ll get me as well as KD playing The Cavs during the play-in match,” Irving said. “In Minnesota, the West, Minnesota, and the Clippers. I’m guessing somebody in the backroom is affirming that this is the way to go.”
From Stephen Curry, LeBron James as well as Anthony Davis last season to Durant, Irving, Paul George, Karl-Anthony Towns, and others this year the play-in tournament is a huge success according to the players and fans. Durant believes that as long as the tournament of the second year is a good one playing on hardwoods, he thinks that it’s good for the sport.
“It is dependent on how the games are played. The style of playoffs and the rest do not really matter. It’s about what happens on the court as well as that of the athletes on the court,” Durant said. “I’m certain that there’ll be great basketball with the talent that we have in our league.”
While Brooklyn has seen plenty of need-to-win games during the regular season but the team will have their first glimpse of a serious must-win game on Tuesday night with the entire world watching the team. Their players know this more than anyone else.
“As an opponent, it’s like one of the Game 6s and Game 5s or Game 7s where it’s a must-win,” Irving said. “You know the ball will be tipped, and it’s not going to depend on anything but the will, ability, and preparation physically as well as how well you are aware of the offensive plans of the opposing team and paying close attention to the possessions during three-minute intervals. The opposition team is bound to run and you have to be ready to be able to withstand it.
“You aren’t aware of what might happen during games like this. It’s best to be prepared for whatever could happen and show up with unwavering confidence in facing another fantastic team. I’m excited about this. Let’s go for it.”
The health status remains the same at the least for the time being. Despite the optimism of Sunday, Ben Simmons will not play for the Nets however Seth Curry is likely back. The Cavs most successful player, Jarrett Allen, remains in Cleveland due to a broken finger.