Winners of seven of their last 10 games, the Brooklyn Nets (41-29) are just two games back in the Atlantic Division to the New York Knicks.
While the Nets have already assured themselves of a playoff spot, there are just 12 chances remaining on Brooklyn’s schedule for it to catch the Knicks for first place in the division.
So what’s it going to take for the new-look Nets to take home the Atlantic Division crown?
For one, Brooklyn should focus on reaching the 100-point plateau, as Mike Mazzeo of ESPN shows us the Nets’ success when scoring in triple digits:
The #Nets are 17-3 when they score 100 or more points.
— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) March 21, 2013
While eight of their next 12 opponents sport losing records, the Nets don’t necessarily have an easy road ahead of them.
They’ll have to go to Denver and attempt to get a win on the road and will play back-to-back road games against the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers.
It’s obviously not an easy task for Brooklyn, but the Nets have beaten Denver, Boston and Indiana this season and now have a healthy Deron Williams running the point.
Williams’ numbers have steadily climbed all season and the month of March has seen D-Will at his best thus far in Brooklyn.
He’s averaging more than 26 points per game, turning it over 2.8 times per game to an average of 7.7 assists per game and shooting almost 49 percent from the field and better than 41 percent from downtown. Compare that to February when Williams was shooting 42 percent from the field and averaging 3.6 turnovers per game to 7.1 assists per game.
Not to be forgotten is Brook Lopez, whose career season has the Nets in prime position to make a run at an NBA championship.
Lopez is averaging 19 points and seven rebounds a game and is shooting it better than 52 percent from the field while averaging more than two blocks per game.
One thing Brooklyn knows is that it usually has the edge on the glass, with Reggie Evans averaging more than 10 boards per game and boasting six games of 20 rebounds or more this season.
With the Nets hitting their stride of late, Brooklyn is poised to steal the division from its New York rivals.
The Knicks still have 14 games remaining but have a much tougher schedule than the Nets, as New York still has matchups with Boston (twice), Memphis, Miami, Oklahoma City, Chicago and Indiana.
Although they’ve won four straight, the Knicks rely too much on Carmelo Anthony and the 3 ball whereas Brooklyn can beat you from inside the paint with Lopez or from 3-point territory with Williams, Joe Johnson, C.J. Watson and Keith Bogans.
In their remaining games, look for the Nets to put their fifth-ranked defense in terms of points allowed per game (95.6) to work as they leapfrog the Knicks for their first Atlantic Division title since 2005-06.
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