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Tuesday, April 1, 2014
W2W4: Nets vs. Rockets

By Mike Mazzeo

NEW YORK -- Win and they’re in. It’s that simple.

The Brooklyn Nets can clinch a playoff berth with a victory over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night at Barclays Center. Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

Lucky 14? So this is kind of odd: If the Nets win, they will break the franchise record for consecutive home wins with their 14th straight. They will also snap a 14-game losing streak against the Rockets (49-23). Fifth-seeded Brooklyn (39-33) trails both third-seeded Toronto (42-32) and fourth-seeded Chicago (42-32) by two games in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.

Injury woes: Kevin Garnett (back) and Andrei Kirilenko (ankle) are out again, missing their 17th and fifth straight games, respectively. Marcus Thornton (back) is out. Dwight Howard (ankle) and Patrick Beverley (knee) are out for the Rockets.

Last time out: The Rockets beat the Nets in a laugher 114-95 on Nov. 29 in Houston. They hit 19 3-pointers and shot 52.7 percent from the field in that game. Brooklyn is a different team now, however, and has especially clamped down on the defensive end. James Harden, who is averaging 31.5 points in his last four games, will have to carry the load offensively with Howard out. Harden had just nine points the last time the two teams met -- granted it didn’t matter.