With wins against the Pacers and Celtics, respectively, both the Nets and Magic with make the 2019 NBA Playoffs and end two of the three longest playoff droughts in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets had not made the postseason since 2015, when they were led by Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez, while the Magic had not been to the playoffs since 2012 when they were led by All-NBA first team center Dwight Howard. The Knicks now have the longest playoff drought in the East, having not made the playoffs since 2013.
The star of this year’s Nets’ squad, first time All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell, credits his teammates with helping his club get back to the postseason for the first time in four years, writes Greg Logan of Newsday.
“We wouldn’t have gotten this far without everybody,” Russell said. “It sounds cliché to say, but so many guys made big shots that you may not have expected and so many guys made big winning plays that got us those games. We’re enjoying this as a group.”
Meanwhile, the Magic will also earn a Southeast Division title, the team’s first in nine years. Their leader, another first-time All-Star in center Nikola Vucevic, is proud of his team’s fight and toughness both this season and through the hard times in seasons’ past, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.
“It feels incredible,” Vucevic said. “A whole year fighting, the ups and downs. We made it the hard way… We’ve lost so many games and we’ve struggled so much these last few years… I’m so proud of this team. No one thought we could make it… It’s an amazing feeling.”