The Brooklyn Nets have secured their spot in the 2019 postseason.
🗣 BROOKLYN STAND UP!!!!!!- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) April 7, 2019
WE ARE PLAYOFF-BOUND!!!!!!!!!!!#WEGOHARD #BETONBROOKLYN pic.twitter.com/mqKLRsnnoi
With a 108-96 win over the Pacers - their 41st of the season - the Nets clinched their first playoff berth since 2015. Such continues the trend of a young team exceeding its expectations as Brooklyn was predicted to win under 33 games ahead of the season.
To put it in perspective, over half of this Nets roster was not yet in the NBA the last time the franchise appeared in the postseason; among these players is D'Angelo Russell, who was drafted in 2015.
This season, Russell has led the Nets offence with averages of 21.0 points and 7.0 assists per game, numbers good enough for him to be named the franchise's first All-Star since Joe Johnson in the 2013-14 campaign. Russell exemplifies the team's identity of exceeding expectations as many had written him off after three difficult years to begin his career.
Now, at the forefront of a franchise's resurgence, Russell has deservedly received plenty of consideration to win the league's Most Improved Player award.
Brooklyn could prove to be a tough out for whoever it faces in the first round - in addition to its All-Star point guard, the team features five other players (Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, DeMarre Carroll and Jarrett Allen) that average 11.0 points per game or more.
Allen, a second-year centre out of Texas is developing into one of the league's best rim-protecting bigs while Harris, who connects on 2.4 3-pointers per game at 47.2 percent clip, is one of the league's best shooters. Dinwiddie comes off the bench to average 17.0 points per game and is a matchup nightmare for second units around the league.
As it currently has 41 wins, Brooklyn can finish anywhere between the sixth and eighth seeds at the crowded bottom of the Eastern Conference. This season, the Nets are 1-3 against each of the East's top two seeds (Bucks and Raptors) and 2-2 against the Sixers (No.3).
Brooklyn takes the floor once more in the regular season when it hosts Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat on Wednesday.