If Bucks coach Jason Kidd really wants to stick it to the Nets, he will have no better opportunity than right now.
If the Bucks beat the Nets Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee and the Pacers lose, the former Nets coach not only will clinch a playoff spot but will deal a severe blow to the Nets' playoff aspirations.
Latest Nets stories
"You know that they are going to be ready for us and they are trying to secure their spot also," Thaddeus Young said Friday night.
Young, who joined the Nets at the trade deadline, coming from Minnesota in the Kevin Garnett deal, might not totally understand that the games between the Bucks and Nets this season have had added intensity.
He never played for Kidd when the former point guard coached the Nets last season, then suddenly bolted the team in the summer after reportedly trying and failing to wrest control of player personnel matters from general manager Billy King.
The games between the Nets and Bucks this season have been dramatic, with the Bucks taking two of the previous three meetings. They won in triple overtime in November in Kidd's first game in Brooklyn since his departure, then rallied from a 17-point deficit to win in Milwaukee in February before losing to the Nets in triple overtime in March.
As a player, Kidd led the Nets to consecutive NBA Finals appearances in the early 2000s and the team retired his No. 5 jersey at Barclays Center early last season. But the Nets got off to a 10-21 start in 2013-14 in Kidd's first season as coach, and reports came out much later that they considered firing him at that time. The Nets eventually rallied to make the playoffs and reached the second round.
"I understand they wanted to fire me in December ," Kidd said to reporters before the November Bucks-Nets game. "So I think it just shows the type of people I was dealing with."
This season, Kidd has turned around the Bucks, who had the NBA's worst record last season (15-67) and lost rookie Jabari Parker, the No. 2 overall pick, to a season-ending knee injury. Milwaukee is 39-40 and in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. If the Bucks make the playoffs, they'll be the first team to do so after having the league's worst record the season before since the 2008-09 Miami Heat.
"They are a really young, athletic team [and] play very hard, play disciplined," Nets point guard Deron Williams said of the Bucks. "J-Kidd being over there is probably a little extra motivation for them."
The Nets, meanwhile, are 37-42 and a game ahead of ninth-place Indiana with three games to play.
With Roderick Boone