One more win.
That’s all the Nets need to secure a berth in the playoffs.
They closed out their crazy, drama-filled season by beating the Indiana Pacers, 134-126, on Sunday at Barclays Center for their fourth straight win.
The victory locked up seventh place in the Eastern Conference. As a result, the Nets will host the No. 8 Cleveland Cavaliers at 7 p.m. Tuesday with a playoff berth on the line.
“They got it done,” coach Steve Nash said of his players. “They got up to seventh and we were in 10th a week ago. We’ve had to weather a lot for the guys to get here.”
Here is the best of all possible play-in positions: If the Nets win, they will advance to the playoffs, where they will meet the No. 2 seed Boston Celtics.
If the Nets lose Tuesday, they will get one more crack at the ‘W’ on Friday when they host the winner of the Charlotte-Atlanta play-in game.
While elite players around the league were resting on this final day of the regular season, the Nets again needed big games from Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Durant dished a career-high 16 assists and had 20 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth triple-double of the season. Irving scored 35 points and shot 15-for-20, including 4-for-7 from three-point range.
Oshae Brissett scored 28 points for the Pacers, who lost their final 10 games to finish 25-57. Indiana didn’t win after March 20. Buddy Hield added 21.
“Every game was pretty much a must-win, so they gave us a great test, a great challenge, and I’m glad we passed a few of them and we got to learn some lessons,” Irving said of the Nets’ last two weeks of the regular season. “We get to carry some of the momentum on to Tuesday.”
After losing 17 of 20 games to drop to 32-33, the Nets won 12 of their last 17. It was a crazy end to a crazy season that, among other things, included an 11-game losing streak, a protracted period during which Durant was out with a knee injury. There also was a long period in which Irving did not play at all because of his unvaccinated status (before being allowed to play road games) and a trade of the disgruntled James Harden.
Durant hopes the whole experience will make the team stronger.
“I like how we all persevered through from the guys on the floor to the front office to everyone in the organization,” he said. “We just stuck together through tough times and then we’re here with an opportunity to go compete for a championship . . . In the moment, it [stinks] going through some of that stuff, and you look back on it, definitely made us better as a group.”
The Nets and Cleveland both finished the regular season at 44-38, but the Nets got the No. 7 seed by virtue of their 3-1 record against the Cavs in the regular season. The most recent of those wins took place only two days earlier as they defeated Cleveland 118-107, at Barclays Center.
“Let’s get it on,” said Irving, who helped lead the Cavaliers to a title in 2016. “This is a special time of the year going against a team like the Cavaliers.
“It’s something to look forward to. Something to really go home and think about all the possessions that happened the other night and learn from them and take what you can into Tuesday because they’re going to make adjustments, we’re going to make adjustments and it’s going to be an all-out battle.”