The Brooklyn Nets earned seven straight wins by beating mostly losing teams and often getting it done down the stretch.
Their eighth straight win, however, was a decisive 18-point defeat of the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. The Nets will seek their ninth consecutive victory Monday night when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers, another top-tier team in the Eastern Conference.
Before leading for the final 42:56 of the 118-100 win over the Bucks, the Nets had only two wins in the streak vs. teams with winning records: Atlanta and Indiana, both 17-16.
After leading by as many as 44 in a 30-point win over Golden State on Wednesday, the Nets held Milwaukee to 44 percent shooting from the field and 24.3 percent from 3-point range.
“This is our group, we’re just rocking, having fun playing a great brand of basketball, doing the little things, and it’s resulting in some wins,” Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving said. “But we just want to keep it up. We don’t want to take our foot off the gas pedal. It’s a long season, but this is a great place that we’re at right now, and we feel good.”
Because of what unfolded Friday night, the Nets can match the Bucks and Celtics for the NBA’s longest winning streak of the season. Brooklyn also can get its first nine-game winning streak since a franchise-record 14-game run in 2006.
Brooklyn’s two most recent wins also did not require heavy lifting from Kevin Durant. Durant scored 24 points Friday after finishing with 23 Wednesday but also had plenty of help. Irving scored 14 of his 18 in the fourth when the Nets kept Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo scoreless.
The Nets are 12-1 in their past 13 games and Cleveland has been nearly as hot lately. Since their five-game losing streak last month, the Cavaliers are 14-6 in their past 20 but are also attempting to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since that skid.
On Friday, Cleveland saw its five-game winning streak stopped with a 118-107 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Cleveland shot 51.3 percent but despite shooting over 50 percent for the 15th time, it allowed a season-high 19 3-pointers to the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting team and trailed by as many as 26 early in the third when coach J.B. Bickerstaff benched his starters.
Darius Garland led the Cavaliers with 17 points while Isaac Okoro added 15. Star Donovan Mitchell, who is averaging 28.9 points, was held to 12 on 4-of-16 shooting after scoring 36 in Wednesday’s win over Milwaukee.
“You can say you have nights like that, but after a win like we had against Milwaukee, it was kind of upsetting to come out the way we did as a group, especially the starters,” Mitchell said. “I put it on the starting five. We’ll be better, we’ll learn from it, and we’ll move on, but it’s definitely tough to come out the way we came out as a group.”
Brooklyn won four of five meetings with Cleveland last season. The Nets also earned a seven-point home win over the Cavaliers on April 12 to win the play-in game ahead of the playoffs.
–Field Level Media