With just 12 games remaining in their 2018-19 regular season, the Brooklyn Nets are in a strong position. The team holds a 4.5-game edge on two teams — the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets — that occupy the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference and, if the season ended in mid-March, Brooklyn would match up with the Philadelphia 76ers in what would be an intriguing 3-vs-6 battle in the playoffs.
Of course, it is too early to flatly assume the Nets will be taking part in the postseason but, with projection systems painting an exceptionally rosy picture, Brooklyn is in good shape. With that in mind, point guard D’Angelo Russell shared a bit of insight with Michael Scotto of The Athletic this week and, if you squint a bit, it would be easy to take his comments as a bit of a dig at a former employer.
“I’ve never been in this playoff hunt knowing that every game matters,” Russell said. “I’ve only been in situations where the season was kind of over with 20 games left. It’s definitely a different vibe. Looking forward to it. I think this is what it’s about.”
It has to be noted that Russell didn’t implicitly reference the Los Angeles Lakers but, after two seasons in Los Angeles in which the team combined for 43 victories, the now 23-year-old is in a very different position. Russell was on the 2017-18 Nets team that won only 28 games but he missed a large chunk of that campaign with injury and, at the very least, this is the best team he has been a part of during his brief professional career.
Add to that the fact that the Lakers are not going to be taking part in the NBA’s second season and the memory of Russell being traded as almost a sweetener in a salary dump move? It makes sense that Russell might be in a position to take some additional pleasure in the good fortune of his current squad.
Russell was selected to his first All-Star team earlier this season and, in general, he has played quite well in averaging 20.2 points and 6.8 assists per game. Still, team-wide accomplishments always make things feel better and Russell is the most prominent player on a team that seems destined to crash the playoff party. He could simply be “looking forward to it.”