The Nets gathered on the court at HSS Training Center Tuesday and staged their first practice as a different kind of a team — a playoff-bound team.
“It’s exciting just to see in general an organization start from the bottom coming up and seeing the success just evolving right in front of our eyes,” D’Angelo Russell said. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
The team has evolved from 20 wins two seasons ago to clinching a playoff spot at 41-40 with one regular-season game left, a matchup Wednesday night at Barclays Center against Miami and the retiring Dwyane Wade.
But Joe Harris wants to make something crystal clear: When the Nets tip off at Philadelphia or Toronto in Game 1, they aren’t going to be happy just being there.
“Obviously, we’re excited to be in the playoffs, but by no means are we satisfied with just making it to the playoffs,” said Harris, who attended alma mater Virginia’s win over Texas Tech for the national title Monday night. “We feel like regardless of who we play against, Toronto or Philadelphia, we’ve had competitive battles with each team this entire season.
“We still want to make some noise in the playoffs and make it competitive.”
Right now, the Nets are in the No. 6 spot, ahead of Orlando via a tiebreaker. The Magic finish at Charlotte Wednesday night. If the Nets hold on to that sixth seed, they face third-seeded Philadelphia. They went 2-2 against the 76ers. If the Nets fall to seventh, they face second-seeded Toronto. They took an overtime win at home against the Raptors, then dropped the other three.
“Both teams are extremely talented,” Harris said. “It’s sort of a pick-your-poison situation. I wouldn’t say that we prefer to play against either team. We’re just fortunate to be in this position, and we’re ready to compete against whoever it might be.”
So will Kenny Atkinson rest guys or reduce minutes against Miami to have them even more ready?
“I do think our goal is we owe it to our fans, we owe it to our team, to go into that first game in the best condition as possible, whatever that means,” Atkinson said. “Whether that’s keeping our rhythm and playing guys a lot of minutes, whether it’s reducing them a little, I’m not sure what that looks like exactly right now.”
Notes & quotes: DeMarre Carroll (wrist) won’t play Wednesday and Harris (foot) is questionable . . . Harris led the NBA in three-point percentage at 47.4 entering Tuesday’s play. How much would that title mean to him? “Obviously, my role in the NBA is as a shooter, so that’s sort of like the equivalent I guess of a batting champion or something like that,” Harris said. “So I definitely take a lot of pride in it and it would mean a lot to me.”