As the New Jersey Nets begin their final eight games of the 2010-11 NBA season, they will not only look to finish strong to help with confidence for next year, but also preventing other teams from clinching playoff births on their watch. First up in the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers are just one win or Charlotte Bobcats loss away from locking down a playoff spot. Not too shabby for a team that started 3-13 but has been an amazing 36-23 since. If the formula looks familiar it should, former Nets President Rod Thorn -- now in the same position with the Sixers -- flipped New Jersey in a similar way.
The Nets, meanwhile, have dropped four in a row and eight of nine. Their latest setback was a 120-116 shootout Wednesday night against the New York Knicks. Anthony Morrow led New Jersey with 30 points while Brook Lopez had 26 and Deron Williams returned to the lineup to score 22 points, pull down eight rebounds and hand out eight assists.
If New Jersey plans on getting back into the win column, they will have to do it without double-double machine Kris Humphries. The forward is dealing with a sprained ankle and bruised heel that he suffered against the Knicks.
With rookie Damion James still out, that means the Nets front line will be Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro and Lopez. Not exactly a group that will scare the Sixers as they push for the playoffs.
Philadelphia has taken out New Jersey in seven straight games and will be looking for a season sweep for the second year in a row.