Brooklyn Nets first in Eastern Conference to clinch playoff berth

The Brooklyn Nets clinched a playoff berth Tuesday night after defeating the Toronto Raptors 116-103 in Tampa, Florida. They are the first Eastern Conference team to confirm a spot in the NBA’s postseason.

Now, the Nets can slip no lower than sixth in the Eastern Conference standings.

“It’s great,” first-year Nets coach Steve Nash said of securing a place in the playoffs. “I think we have our eyes on bigger things, but it’s a nice first step to clinch a berth. For this group, facing all we’ve faced, to be in this position with 10 games left is very positive.”

Nets guard Joe Harris said James Harden — who remains sidelined with a hamstring strain — mentioned clinching a postseason berth to several Nets players on Tuesday. Brooklyn big man Jeff Green said that after all of the injuries the team has been through — including playing large stretches without Harden, Kevin DurantTyler Johnson and others — having a guaranteed playoff spot is rewarding but not the team’s final goal.

“It is something that we can hang our hats on,” Green said. “That’s something we can be proud of, but we also have to realize that that’s not the goal. … We have to take on the next step, and that’s focusing on what we need to accomplish in the playoffs to get to our ultimate goal.”

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