NEW YORK – Halfway through Saturday night's game here at Barclays Center between Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets was home baking season in line.
Clinging for a one-point half-time lead and need for a win to avoid slipping for the East Conference's eighth and final five-game playoff spot to go, the networks left their wardrobe well aware that this was a game they simply could not escape.
"We didn't play the best," said Angelo Russell. "We gave them a lot of what they got. We knew we had to tighten and tighten.
" We knew what to do. "It was a feeling Russell clearly took to heart when he scored 20 of his 29 points in the third quarter to lead the net to a desperate need for 1
"We know that all these games are coming up is the playoff game," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said "It's just how we look at it. We're in it. We can't get away from it.
"They are all playoff games, but it was important to get this."
Atkinson said that before he knew the results of the other games around the East – including the sixth place Detroit stamps that beat Portland Trail Blazers, the eighth place Miami Heat beats the New York Knicks and the ninth place Orlando Magic beating Indiana Pacers.
As a result, the exhibitions at the beginning of Saturday saw the same as they did at the end of it: Boston and Indiana in fourth place tie, followed by Detroit, Brooklyn, Miami and Orlando – with 1.5 games separating teams in the sixth to ninth.
Tightly stopped position only emphasizes the importance of any win for each team struggling to reach the playoffs. But it was especially important for the networks to claim a victory as they were struggling through a brutally hard closure to make the playoffs.
|6-10||WL||GB 8th||Remaining Schedule|
|# 6 Stamps||39-37||+1.0||@IND, IND, @OKC, vs CHA , vs MEM, @NY|
|# 7 Net||39-38||+0.5  vs MIL, vs TOR, @ MIL, @IND, vs MIA|
|# 8 Heat  38-38||–||@ BOS, vs BOS, @MIN, @ TOR, mod PHI, @BRK|
|# 9 Magic||38-39||– 0.5 [TORvsNYvsATL@BOS@CHA|
|# 10 Hornets  35-40||-2.5||@GS, @UTA, @NO, vs TOR, @ET, @CLE, vs ORL|
|Through mar. 30|
Before Saturday night, Atkinson tried to downplay expectations of his team getting a victory before the nights took their latest playoff-bound opponent.
"I think that's the word: excited," Atkinson said. "There is no fear, there is no fear. Look at the schedule. I honestly believe, and I said this before the weather, we are probably not favored in any of the games, but it's almost like we should pull some NCAAs Interrupt.
"We must beat some teams that we should not beat. It is quite clear and simple. "
On the one hand, Atkinson has the right – the net is in the midst of a brutal closure plan that has them playing 12 of their last 14 games (including the last eight consecutive) against teams at the moment in the playoffs, and all except one of them against teams with better records than Brooklyn.
On the other hand, the networks played on Saturday night against a Celtics team who had played the night before and rested their two best players, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford
In short: This was a game that the networks simply had to win.
D & # 39; Angelo Russell scores 20 points in the third quarter to give the networks a great lead over Celtics.
And thanks to Russell they did, his other three quarters were nothing to write home about as he was a combined 4 to 12 shot, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range, and had Four sales, but he did more than that with his outbreak in thi rd, scoring 20 points in 8 to 12 shots, including 4 to 7 from 3-point range in just 7 minutes and 44 seconds of playing time.
"There are two halves in each game," said Russell. "The first half was a bit suspicious – expensive turnover, questionable shot selection – so I just knew I had to tighten up."
All eight of these teams have potentially fatal errors. Can they fix them in time?
Kyrie Irving's layup of 0.5 seconds back won it to Celtics, but it was Pacer's inability to convert down the line that robbed them of a chance for everyone but unlock the benefit of the courts when these two teams probably meet in the off-season.
When he did, the rest of the nets followed and pushed the lead into two digits against a tired and lower leg Celtics team. And, unlike the many dense games that the network has found throughout this season, Brooklyn managed to hold a significant lead in the fourth quarter to get out of this with a relatively comfortable – and massively important – win.  However, Boston was given a break when Indiana – who lost in Boston the night before at Irving's game-winning layup with 0.5 seconds back – lost home to Orlando, leaving Celtics at fourth place in East. Pacers and Celtics will squad again Friday night in Indianapolis in a game that is likely to determine who is holding the home head in the inevitable first-round series between those starting two weeks from now.
The entry of this season was the cellists supposed to fight for the home court's advantage throughout the East playoffs by two weeks of going into the regular season – not fighting just to get it in the first round of playoffs. But power ahead Marcus Morris said Boston will be ready when the postseason rolls around – and that's all that happened before, nothing.
"We've had criticism all year round," said morris. "It can't be worse than what it is now. So we tell ourselves, continue, man.
" Everyone is going to doubt us because of the year we had, but when the playoffs hit it is basically a new one. season, so we still have a chance to turn this thing around. Probably 10 years from now they will make 30 to 30 on this team. "