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Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Nets face tough road for division title

By Mike Mazzeo

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets -- despite going 19-8 since Jan. 1 -- are going to have a tough time surpassing the Toronto Raptors en route to winning the Atlantic Division.

The Nets (29-29) currently trail the Raptors (32-26) by 3 1/2 games. The winner of the division gets an automatic top-four seed, regardless of record.

The Nets have the fourth-easiest schedule the rest of the way (.459), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Raptors? Well, they have the easiest remaining schedule (.447).

Here’s a look at the toughest games for both teams going forward (there aren’t that many).

The Nets play nine teams with winning records, while the Raptors play just six.

Brooklyn

March 5 Memphis (34-25)
March 10 Toronto (32-26)
March 12 at Miami (43-14)
March 15 at Washington (31-29)
March 17 Phoenix (35-24)
March 23 at Dallas (36-25)
March 30 Minnesota (30-29)
April 1 Houston (40-19)
April 8 at Miami (43-14)

Toronto

March 9 at Minnesota (30-29)
March 16 Phoenix (35-24)
March 21 Oklahoma City (45-15)
March 31 at Miami (43-14)
April 2 Houston (40-19)
April 4 Indiana (46-13)

Obviously, games aren’t played on paper, and there’s still plenty of time left.

But if the Nets want to win the Atlantic, they’re going to have to take care of their own business -- and probably get some help.

“Let’s try and get over .500 now,” Deron Williams said. “We don’t want to just hang around there. We want to finish up strong, especially heading into the playoffs and we’ve talked about moving up as high as we can.”