I was surprised that the Brooklyn Nets played like they did for 76 games, worked their magic number down to 1, then started ripping off big wins. That was before I realized few things actually make more sense.
You may have heard that the Nets scored 141 points in Philadelphia the other day, their third straight win. First it was Orlando by 10, then the Hawks by 9; they beat Philly by 23. Three of Brooklyn’s 19 wins this season have come in the last five days.
Phoenix can still win the Lottery. But if the Nets lose one of their last four and Los Suns lose out, there would be no tiebreak. If the two teams were to tie, they’d share the ping-pong balls reserved for the league’s two worst records, which amounts to nearly 45 percent of the total (22.5% each). A split would anger more than a few greedy Celtics fans but that may end up being what they have to hope for. Do you know that the Lottery favorite actually has a better chance of being jumped three times than it does to win? (35.7% to 25%)
No team has more motivation to win out than the Nets, especially with one more game in Boston, one of the most unique must-win games of all-time.
But before that comes a game in Orlando that the Magic have no reason to win and something close enough to an excuse to lose. They “lead” the ’76ers by one loss for fourth place and if Philly gave up 141 on their home floor, why do the Magic bother?
Pick: Brooklyn Nets (+125)