Saturday’s game vs. the Heat serves as a potential playoff showdown, wrote Brian Lewis of the Post. The Nets are currently the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference; the Heat are first.
“Yeah, we realize how important each game is. And we will try to bring our best effort from the start,” Kevin Durant told reporters. “I think [Wednesday] was just a slow start. They were able to get up, but I think our third quarter we played basketball. But then they got hot in the fourth there making 3s. They played great. … We know we have to bring it from start to finish.”
If the playoffs were to start today, the Nets would play the Raptors in the play-in tournament. But a lot can change, of course, between now and the second week of April when the regular season ends.
Veteran center Al Horford has been an underrated iron man of sorts, missing just three games because of injury and doing all the dirty work.
“I feel like our medical group has done an unbelievable job with me this year. As you can see, I’ve been available, I’ve been able to play, I haven’t had many issues,” Horford said, via Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. “I’ve been very happy with the job that I’ve been putting in in the treatment room, weight room, all those things that I’m doing to put me on the floor.
“So I’m in a really good place with that, but obviously I know that playoffs are coming,” said Horford. “We have been playing at a pretty high rate, so I’m sure that at some point or another, I am going to have to take a game or whatever, something like that, to make sure that I’m at my best moving forward. It’s just the way that the season is, but I’ve been pretty happy with how I’ve felt all season. But understanding the bigger picture — yeah, I’m sure at some point I’ll look into that.”
- Coach Ime Udoka said he would like to increase Jayson Tatum‘s minutes during the playoffs. “It’s a balance, for a few reasons. You want to, obviously, be well-rested and healthy going into the playoffs but not take away what we’ve improved on and areas we still need to get better at,” Udoka said, via Murphy. “As well as building up playoff minutes. And so it’s a balance there. The 36 or 37 that (Tatum is) at, that’s going to probably increase to 39 to 40 in the playoffs. So we don’t want him to be too rested, where he’s going into the playoffs and take that spike in minutes and he’s tired after a seven-game series or whatever. So it’s a balance there. But nights off, you want to find a full night off, not a 25-minute night. And so that’s what we’ll look at over the next few games.”
Both Julius Randle and Derrick Rose aim to return to the court before the end of the season on April 10, per Marc Berman of the New York Post.
Rose has surgery to remove a bone spur in his ankle Jan. 30 and hasn’t played since. He has two years and $30 million remaining on his contract, though as Berman noted, the second year is not guaranteed.
Randle has been experiencing a sore right quad. But guard RJ Barrett said the Knicks can still play a spoiler role if they do things the right way. “We have a number of guys who can get into the paint and a number of guys who can shoot it as well,” Barrett said. “So when we can get in there and trust each other to make the right plays, that is tough to guard.”
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