While the Brooklyn Nets locked up a postseason spot earlier this week, they didn’t look much like a playoff team last time out.
They surprisingly haven’t been able to keep up with the struggling Detroit Pistons, either.
Looking to extend the longest home winning streak in franchise history, the Nets try to avoid a four-game season sweep at the hands of the road-challenged Pistons on Friday night.
After clinching a berth with Tuesday’s 105-96 win over Houston, Brooklyn (40-34) was blown out 110-81 at New York the following night. The Nets were outrebounded 41-23 and allowed the Knicks to shoot a season-high 60.0 percent.
"They were the better team," coach Jason Kidd said. "Lose by one, lose by 100, it’s just a loss. We move on."
Joe Johnson led Brooklyn with 16 points after scoring 32 against the Rockets, and Deron Williams (12) and Alan Anderson (11) were the only other Nets in double figures Wednesday. Shaun Livingston had four points after totaling 30 in the previous two games.
"It was very frustrating the way we got blown out," Johnson said. "For whatever reason, we had a few guys fighting and a few guys who wasn’t fighting. If we’re not all on the same page, you get a lopsided score like that."
While most teams would surely be looking forward to a visit from the Pistons (27-48), the Nets haven’t been able to solve them. They have dropped all three meetings this season, most recently falling 111-95 at Detroit on Feb. 7.
"We knew what we had to do against them – rebound and get back in transition defense," Williams said afterward. "We just weren’t ready to play."
Brooklyn has had an especially rough time against the Pistons down low, getting outrebounded by an average of 10.3 and outscored in the paint by an average of 23.3 points. Detroit center Andre Drummond is averaging 19.0 points and 17.5 boards in the last two matchups.
The Nets haven’t been swept in the series since going 0-3 in 2007-08.
Though they haven’t matched up well with Detroit, the Nets could have a big edge on their own court. Brooklyn has won 21 of 23 at home, including all 14 games since the start of February by an average of 11.5 points.
The Pistons, meanwhile, have dropped out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture behind a 5-19 slide. They have given up 110.4 points per game in dropping 15 of 16 on the road.
That certainly sets up well for the Nets, who are 31-7 when scoring at least 100.
Detroit did put up a good fight against another of the East’s top teams Wednesday, never trailing by more than eight points in a 101-94 loss at Indiana. Josh Smith scored 24 points while Greg Monroe and Drummond combined for 30 and 30 boards, but the Pistons were held to a season-low 36.6 percent shooting.
"Our season definitely could have been better," point guard Brandon Jennings said. "We have taken a lot of lumps and bruises throughout the year. We’ve been an inconsistent team all year. And that’s been our main problem."
Monroe has posted three straight double-doubles, averaging 21.7 points and 13.3 boards. His career averages of 17.3 points and 62.8 percent shooting versus the Nets are his highest against any opponent.