The Knicks were supposed to be the local team in danger of a disastrous road trip. Instead, so far the Nets have flopped, equaling a season-high three-game losing streak. Now, the remaining three games of their five-game, 10-day trip have taken on added significance.
Instead of looking to fortify themselves as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Nets are in danger of dropping to the third seed and losing home-court advantage in the second round of the playoffs.
After losing two straight games in Milwaukee, the Nets now trail the 76ers by two games in the loss column for the top spot in the East with six games to go. Even more worrisome, they lead the Bucks by just a single game in the loss-column, and no longer hold the tie-breaker. That makes Thursday’s game in Dallas and Saturday’s game in Denver, that much more important. The two Western Conference foes, both of them current playoff teams, could determine the Nets’ seeding.
The Bucks and Sixers both have relatively soft schedules by comparison. They each will face just one team with a winning record (the Heat) the rest of the way. The Nets are 0-4 against Milwaukee and Philadelphia on the road, and 2-0 at home versus the two teams.
In their first meeting with the Mavericks, on Feb. 27 at Barclays Center, the Nets were overwhelmed, 115-98, while playing without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Both will play Thursday, although James Harden (hamstring) will remain out.
The last time the Nets lost three in a row, they responded by winning eight straight and 15 of 16. Now would be a good time for a similar streak.
Irving and the Nets were each fined $35,000 by the NBA for repeatedly violating league rules regarding media access, the league announced Wednesday. The fines came as a result of Irving refusing to take part in postgame interview sessions.
Earlier this season, Irving was fined $50,000 for violating the league’s health and safety protocols after a video surfaced of him attending a crowded indoor gathering. He also was fined $25,000 for refusing to speak to the media during “media week.”