The Nets' huge playoff push

Can vets Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson push the Nets into the postseason? AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

On March 19, following a blowout loss in Cleveland, the Brooklyn Nets had an 8 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason, according to ESPN’s BPI playoff odds.

Since then, thanks to an 8-2 surge, those odds have gone up significantly. In fact, the Nets enter Monday night’s makeup game against Portland at Barclays Center with a 70.2 percent chance of getting into the playoffs.

The Nets (35-41) currently reside as the No. 7 seed in the woeful Eastern Conference -- a half-game up on Boston (35-42) and 1½ games up on Indiana (34-43) and Miami (34-43).

At this point, with six games remaining in the regular season, they control their destiny. All they have to do is close the deal.

Conceivably, that should be easier given that the Trail Blazers made the cross-country trek without frontcourt standouts LaMarcus Aldridge (left thumb sprain), Chris Kaman (right thumb sprain) and Nicolas Batum (low back pain).

But considering how the Nets have played against undermanned teams before, nothing is guaranteed.

Coming off a huge victory over Toronto on Friday night, the Nets were predictably destroyed by top-seeded Atlanta the following day, losing by 32. The Hawks shot 59.8 percent from the field, racked up 40 assists and made 17 3-pointers.

Atlanta, of course, has the right to swap first-round picks with Brooklyn in the upcoming draft as a result of the Joe Johnson trade from 2012. The two teams play again Wednesday night, and the Hawks will be without forward Paul Millsap (shoulder sprain/contusion).

Brooklyn closes out the 2014-15 season with Washington, Milwaukee, Chicago and Orlando. Then, perhaps, some playoff basketball.

Things are looking good -- certainly much better than they once did.

Nets sign Clark: The team signed Earl Clark, who had been on a 10-day contract, for the remainder of this season. Brooklyn holds a team option on Clark for 2015-16.

Brook wins again: Brook Lopez was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the second straight week. He's the first player in the NBA this season and the first player in franchise history to win the award in consecutive weeks. Lopez averaged 20.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks during the week.