Brooklyn Nets guard Patty Mills admits team’s situation is “not ideal” ahead of NBA playoffs | NBA News

Brooklyn Nets guard Patty Mills says the team are “very confident” of producing their best basketball in the NBA playoffs, despite admitting a turbulent season has left them in a situation that is “not ideal”.

The Nets, who began the season as favourites to claim a championship, have since endured near-constant drama. Kyrie Irving’s playing status amid his decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19 dominated the first half of their campaign before, in February, James Harden forced his way out of Brooklyn in a blockbuster trade to the Philadelphia 76ers.

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However, with Irving finally cleared to play in both home and away games, and Kevin Durant finding top form on his return from injury, Thursday night’s clash against the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks, live on Sky Sports, represents an opportunity for the Nets to make a statement ahead of the playoffs.

“I don’t think it’s ideal, but it’s where we’re at with everything that’s gone on and this is the task at hand right now,” Mills said. “We’re still here and we still have a great opportunity in front of us and the belief is all there, as it’s always been.”

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Highlights of the clash between the Detroit Pistons and the Brooklyn Nets in Week 24 of the NBA

Asked how confident he is of the Nets finding their best, Mills said: “Yeah, very, very confident. I think we’re heading in the right direction of where we’re trying to be identity-wise and, like I said, the reason for the confidence is because we’ve shown multiple times throughout games and throughout an individual game of where we’re trying to be, so now it’s just about stringing all of that together.”

Thursday night’s game is set to be the first time since last season’s dramatic Eastern Conference play-off semi-final series between the teams that Durant and Irving have lined up together against the Bucks, and offers the Nets a chance to measure themselves against the reigning champions with little more than two weeks to go until the playoffs.

Mills said: “This is obviously a massive team defensive night for us to be able to understand personnel, be crystal clear in our game plan, what we’re trying to do on the defensive end, understand who their best players are and how to make them uncomfortable, but most of all I think transition, being able to limit that, and being able to take care of the ball.”

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Highlights of the game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Brooklyn Nets in Week 23 of the NBA

With the Bucks engaged in a four-way contest for the top seeding in the Eastern Conference, and the Nets jockeying for position in the play-in positions, a first-round series between the teams is far from out of the question.

Despite having won eight of their last 11 games, the Nets are coming off the back of inconsistent performances in a home loss to the Charlotte Hornets and a narrow victory over the lowly Detroit Pistons, but Mills is confident the nature of Thursday’s opponent will ensure a higher calibre display.

“This is a great test for us, a great task for us to see where we’re at,” Mills said. “We’ve been tested over the course of this whole season and nothing’s different here. You don’t need more extra juice for a game like this and I’m sure it will be a playoff-type atmosphere.”

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