|Kyle Lowry has led Toronto to an impressive 39-30 record thus far, and the lead in the Atlantic Division|
After their poor 10-21 start to the 2013-14 season, the Brooklyn Nets found themselves looking up at the right of the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division for much of the year. Thanks to their 2014 resurgence, though, that has changed somewhat. The only thing that hasn't changed? The Toronto Raptors' stranglehold on the Atlantic lead.
Sure, it–with Toronto's comeback victory over the Hawks earlier today–is down to just two games, with around 13 games left for both squads (after the Nets' game tonight). However, though, the Raptors hold a bunch of tiebreakers over Brooklyn that supercede the split season series, making it all the more tough for the Nets to tie and possibly move ahead of Toronto in the division.
Both teams also have really easy late March and early April schedules to finish out the season and each team has just three games left against above-.500 teams (Dallas, Minnesota, and Miami for the Nets and Miami, Houston, and Indiana for the Raptors) with a whole bunch of matchups with subpar lottery teams just playing out the string and not likely to provide much resistance.
Add in the fact that Brooklyn and Toronto have played amazing basketball since the start of the new year, and you get a late-season divisional title race between rivals that might come down to the last few days/games of the season. Right now, though, the Raptors have the significant advantage with their two-game lead and no head-to-head meetings remaining.
It will take near perfect basketball from the Nets, and some slip-ups here and there from the Raptors, if Brooklyn is going to leapfrog into the Atlantic lead and quite possibly 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. That may be improbable, but with the rolling Nets playing their best hoop all year, it's far from impossible. And Kevin Garnett hasn't even played in weeks.