It's not 2007 anymore, but the Nets are in the playoffs. Haven't been able to say that in six years
When the 76ers blew a six-point lead in under a minute Thursday night vs the hot Denver Nuggets (ironic, yes), something special happened to a team based on the other side of the country. The Philly collapse clinched a playoff spot for the Nets, who, via a series of tiebreakers they own over the 76ers and a few other teams, were able to guarantee their spot in the Eastern Conference postseason this April before teams like the Knicks, who didn't own such tiebreakers.
For the first time in six years, since 2007, the Nets franchise will be participating in basketball games that truly matter, those in the playoffs. The accomplishment, although one that certainly doesn't absolve Brooklyn of any more work this regular season, signifies a major success in the master plan Mikhail Prokhorov had for this franchise when he bought the team back in 2009. In addition to the financial reasons for buying a low-valued American sports team moving to the most-influential city in the world, Prokhorov wanted to craft a winner. And in bringing the Nets from a 12-70 season to a playoff berth, he's on the right path to doing that.
Tonight, the Nets are in Southern Californian to face off with the Los Angeles Clippers, one of the best teams in the entire league. Now, with the Knicks sweeping a home-and-home with the Raptors, their lead in the Atlantic Division has risen to two games. In order to keep pace, Brooklyn needs wins both tonight (vs the Clippers) and tomorrow night (vs the Suns). A few years ago, in the doldrums of the New Jersey seasons, a game against a team with the caliber of the Clippers would be basically an assumed loss. Now, with the Nets a force to be reckoned with in the East and possibly the NBA, there exists the chance that a game in LA could result in a win. It's that change in mentality and philosophy regarding this team that might be the biggest indicator of how much it has grown since its years of futility in the Garden State.