The Brooklyn Nets are a confusing team. Analysts and fans brought out their shovels and prepared to toss dirt on the grave of the Nets when the team dipped to 14-14 and fired Avery Johnson (Joe Johnson is old and bad, Deron Williams isn't the same player, etc.), but the Nets have played a better brand of basketball since Dec. 26. They've recorded wins in six of their last seven games, and now they occupy the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference (3.5 games back of the New York Knicks).
However, are things really different in Brooklyn, or are the Nets just taking advantage of a soft schedule? Their recent wins have come against Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers. The only quality team in that mix is OKC, and the other top competition Brooklyn faced -- the Spurs -- blew them out by 31 points. The East is weak, and over at NetsDaily they like what they've seen from Deron Williams in recent days.
As for the Lakers, they can't seem to stop the bleeding. Consecutive losses to the Sixers, Clippers, Nuggets, Rockets and Spurs have dropped LA five games below .500, which is a terrible sign in the highly-competitive Western Conference. The No. 11 spot in the West isn't going to cut it for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, and at the moment the Lakers' playoff chances have dropped below 30 percent. If this team is going to flip the switch, they'd better do so quickly.
|New York Knicks||34||23-11||.676|
|Los Angeles Clippers||35||27-8||.771|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||34||26-8||.765|
|San Antonio Spurs||37||27-10||.730|
|Golden State Warriors||33||22-11||.667|
|Portland Trail Blazers||34||19-15||.559|
|Los Angeles Lakers||33||15-18||.455|
|New Orleans Hornets||34||9-25||.265|