Three keys for the Nets’ keys to earning at least the No. 6 seed and avoiding the play-in round:
The Nets lead the sixth-seeded Knicks by two games and No. 7 Heat by 2 ½ with 24 games left on the schedule. They have a 2-1 season edge on the Knicks and have already taken the series with Miami. A victory at the Garden on Wednesday or at Miami on March 25 should put them in the driver’s seat for the sixth seed.
Develop a defensive identity
Without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they can’t iso their way to victory — they’ll have to defend their way to it. The Nets have the roster for it, led by NBA All-Defensive Team candidates Nic Claxton and Mikal Bridges. But they’ll need to force turnovers to spark their depleted offense.
The Nets have to not just run and take advantage of fresh legs, but create open 3-point looks in transition before defenses get set. Getting into early offense will be key.