The Nets’ 107-102 home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night could prove to be costly. They were 43-36 and the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference heading into last night’s game against the Detroit Pistons on the road, just one game ahead of the No. 7 seed Miami Heat, which was 42-37 and played the 76ers in Philadelphia yesterday evening.
Both teams have two regular season games remaining. The Nets will play both their games in Brooklyn. They face the Orlando Magic tomorrow and the 76ers Sunday. The Heat have the Washington Wizards on the road tomorrow and the Magic in Miami on Sunday. The Nets were on a three-game winning streak prior to falling to the Timberwolves. The eventual No. 6 seed is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs while the No. 7 seed will have to earn their way into the postseason via the Play-In Tournament.
They were led by guard Spencer Dinwiddie’s game-high 30 points. Forward Mikal Bridges deposited 24 but shot just 9-24. The Nets and Wolves remained close throughout the entire 48 minutes. There were 24 lead changes and eight ties but Minnesota closed out the final 2:36 of the fourth quarter with a 9-4 advantage after the score was equaled at 98-98 on a 26-foot step-back jumper by Dinwiddie. Forward Karl-Anthony Towns lifted the Timberwolves with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists while guard Anthony Edwards had 23 points. Center Rudy Gobert finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds, and his signature sound defense.
“Yeah, I thought Rudy was really good,” said Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn. “Conversely to the last time we played them, where he pretty much stayed in drop [coverage] and allowed us to make those shots. He kind of switched some of those pick-and-rolls [tonight] and moved his feet a little bit and had some quality contests, which I thought was the difference in some of those looks for Mikal.”
On Monday, Bridges, who has been outstanding for the Nets since they acquired him from the Phoenix Suns in February in the Kevin Durant trade, was named the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played from Monday, March 27, through Sunday, April 2. During that period, the Nets went 3-0 as Bridges averaged 33 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.3 steals in 38.3 minutes per game. It is the 26-year-old Bridges first Player of the Week honor of his five-year career.