The Nets are not oblivious to the big picture. They are just choosing to focus on the details.
“I didn’t go in there today in the film session [and say], ‘Hey, come on guys, we got to beat Toronto,' ” Kenny Atkinson said following practice Tuesday at HSS Training Center. “It was like, ‘Here’s our process. Here’s the things we have to improve. Here’s our processes we’ve been talking about since day one of training camp.' ”
The Nets host Toronto Wednesday before a weekend back-to-back at Milwaukee and Indiana. Next Wednesday’s home game against Miami is the regular-season finale, which will be Dwyane Wade’s last regular-season game. The veteran Heat guard is retiring after this season.
To use the word "tough" to describe the Nets’ final four games of the regular season is an understatement. Toronto is the Atlantic Division champions, and still have an outside shot of finishing first overall in the conference. They trail Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee, which beat the Nets, 131-121, Monday night, by three games. Despite losing All-Star guard Victor Oladipo for the season with a ruptured quadriceps tendon in January, the 46-32 Pacers are fifth in the East. And Miami is only a half game back of the Nets for seventh in the East.
All four teams have given the Nets fits; they have lost nine of the 11 games against the Raptors, Pacers, Bucks and Heat this season. Their only wins were a 104-92 victory at Miami on Nov. 20 and a 106-105 overtime triumph over the Raptors on Dec. 7.
Still, the Nets expressed confidence that they are ready for the task at hand.
“We probably would have sat back and said that was an unbelievable position to be in,” Joe Harris said when asked how the team would have responded if they were told before the season where they are in the Eastern Conference playoff race. “We can see our own destiny awaiting us with these four games and we’re just trying to take advantage.”