After years of misery, Nets clinch an improbable playoff berth

Jack Baer | Yahoo Sports

It was a long, painful road for the Brooklyn Nets and their fans, but the team is finally, improbably back in the NBA playoffs.

With a 108-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, the 41-40 Nets clinched their first playoff berth since the 2014-15 season. It remains to be seen whether the team will get the sixth or seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but the good news is already here for Brooklyn.

After spending years in NBA purgatory thanks to a bad mixture of lack of star talent and the inability to develop any thanks to a catastrophic trade with the Boston Celtics in 2013, the Nets have a young core again and a way forward.

As far as the Nets’ odds to make the playoffs went, both Las Vegas and the numbers didn’t seem to think highly of them entering the season.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook gave the Nets a moneyline of +300 to make the postseason, while FiveThirtyEight had the team at around 30 percent. Those odds likely became even worse when the team’s leading scorer, Caris Levert, went down with a severe leg injury.

The Nets still persevered thanks to the breakout season of D’Angelo Russell, who has found new life since he was traded away from the Los Angeles Lakers to make room at point guard for Lonzo Ball. Russell made his first career All-Star appearance and is now averaging 21.2 points and 7.0 assists per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field.

Russell didn’t even know the team had just clinched a playoff spot as he stepped in for a postgame interview.

Between Russell, Levert and other players like rookie center Jarrett Allen, it might not be long before the Nets make the playoffs again.