Being the fifth or sixth seed bears little relevance to the Nets. They want to win, but what matters is the sense of urgency going into the playoffs.
Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.
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Kidd’s postgame press conference started with a question about whether there was any concern about the Nets playing so poorly.
“No, no, none,” Kidd said in the opening statement of a press conference that lasted a little over two minutes.
The tone inside the Nets locker room didn’t exactly ring with concern but that hardly meant they liked how the penultimate regular season game unfolded even if they’ve been assured of a playoff spot for the last two weeks.
“It’s hard, the three or four games when you know the result doesn’t really matter,” Andrei Kirilenko said. “It always kind of weakens you a little bit. You’re playing without much concentration. I don’t know why. I guess it’s a tendency of the nature of the end of the season, especially when you’re already in the playoffs.
“You already know you’re on the road. It doesn’t give you a lot of motivation. Again I don’t think we tried to lose, but I don’t think we played good enough to win.”
Paul Pierce, no stranger to deep playoff runs with Kevin Garnett in Boston, noticed something was off on both ends in a game the Nets still trailed by as much as 21 points.
“Going into the playoffs, you want to start building good habits,” Pierce said. “Tonight was an example of how not to take a step forward.”
Once the Nets complete the season Wednesday in Cleveland, they will open the playoffs this weekend in Toronto or Chicago. Presently, being the fifth seed gets them a rematch with the Bulls, who beat the Nets in seven games last season. The sixth seed would mean a series with the Raptors.
There’s a fine line between not playing well going into the playoffs after coming so far following a 10-21 start and that means playing with urgency, which Pierce does not believe should be a huge deal.
“We should have a sense of urgency right now,” Pierce said. “It’s about playing well. That’s what we are trying to express in the locker room, because you can’t just turn it on once the playoffs start. You have to get into good habits going into the playoffs.
“It’s not like you can just go in and be world-beaters. You have to develop that over the course of time and have consistency doing that.”
For the most part, the last three months have been successful for the Nets. But there are times when they’ve slipped and even if the coach isn’t concerned, the players are talking about trying to avoid such things.
“It’s not that easy,” Joe Johnson said. “We understand we have to finish the regular season first. We’re still playing for a seed.”
It didn’t appear the Nets were too concerned with playoff scenarios against a Knicks team playing without Carmelo Anthony. The Nets looked like a team playing pick-up basketball at the YMCA instead of a looking for a win.
The Nets were down 55-43 at halftime and then 83-67 after three quarters. Andray Blatche, Mason Plumlee, Marcus Thornton, Jorge Gutirrez and Andrei Kirilenko were on the floor as the fourth quarter began.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.