Time is Running Out

The New Jersey Nets know that time is running out for them to secure a spot in the postseason.

The Nets will try to shake a late-season slump Friday when they visit the playoff-bound Detroit Pistons.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Detroit -9 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 190.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Detroit -9 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

New Jersey (31-44) has dropped its last three games, including Tuesday's 108-99 defeat to Philadelphia, and are four games out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with seven games remaining. Any combination of four Atlanta wins or New Jersey losses will eliminate the Nets from the race.

"We have to think we have an opportunity regardless of how many games we have left to play," said Vince Carter, who led the Nets with 29 points against the 76ers. "We have to find a way. We have to think positive. It's still there for the taking."

Five of the Nets' remaining games are on the road, where they are 12-24 and have dropped 10 of 11. Their only road win over that span was a 106-91 victory over the woeful New York Knicks.

Plus, New Jersey's season-ending stretch begins against a Pistons team that has won six straight in the series since a 79-74 home loss March 26, 2006. Detroit (53-21) has outscored the Nets by an average of more than 13 points in those six games.

"Until we get eliminated, you have to stay optimistic," forward Richard Jefferson told the Nets' official Web site. "You keep have to fighting hard, you can't get down.

"You have to stay optimistic until you get eliminated. Then when you get eliminated, then it's 'oh well, we gave it a good try.' We still believe that crazy things can happen."

Devin Harris scored 22 points Tuesday and Jefferson had 14, but just one in the second half. Carter, meanwhile, topped 20 points for the 10th straight game.

"We obviously knew the importance of this game, and just as these games dwindle, it's another lost opportunity," coach Lawrence Frank said.

The Pistons have already clinched the Central Division title and are likely to be the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. They trail first-place Boston by 6 1/2 games and own a 6 1/2-game lead over third-place Orlando.

With its postseason position all but set, Detroit gave Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace the night off Tuesday. Coach Flip Saunders said that all three will probably play against the Nets.

"With 'Sheed, Chauncey and Rip, all three of those guys played through the All-Star game and haven't had any rest," Saunders said. "Our schedule's been all over the place. There's been more back-to-backs than anybody as far as in the league.

"We're in a situation that it's a good time for them to get a rest. How much they rest down the stretch, we'll have to wait and see."

Even without its three stars, Detroit beat Minnesota 94-90 on Tuesday night for its third straight victory. Rookie Rodney Stuckey started and scored 12 of his career-high 27 points in the fourth quarter.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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