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Nets-Raptors preview

04/14/2013 11:14 AM ET
By The Associated Press

Deron Williams and the Nets will play the Raptors on Sunday. Brooklyn has assured itself of at least a four-seed in the playoffs, and a three-seed is still a possibility.(AP)
The Brooklyn Nets' first playoff appearance since 2007 will be at home. That's still not good enough for them.

Brooklyn continues its push for the third seed in the Eastern Conference - and goes for its first season sweep of the Toronto Raptors in a decade - in Sunday's road finale.

After opening its three-game trip Wednesday with a 101-93 victory over Boston, the Nets (47-32) clinched at least the fourth seed with their fourth consecutive win, 117-109 over Indiana on Friday. The victory also prevented the Pacers, the Central Division champs, from locking up the No. 3 spot.

Brooklyn is two games behind Indiana and holds the tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping the Pacers. Winning their final three games - a very possible scenario considering the Nets host Washington and Detroit to finish out the regular season - would force Indiana to win two of its last three just to keep the third seed.

"We could still get the 3 seed,'' said point guard Deron Williams, who finished with 33 points and a season high-tying 14 assists on Friday. "We have to hope for Indiana to lose some games, but it's still possible. I think we have a good thing going right now.''

Williams has been at the center of the Nets' current win streak, averaging team highs with 26.3 points and 9.0 assists.

He'll will try to help Brooklyn win five straight for the first time since it capped off a season-best seven-game run with a 113-106 victory over Toronto (31-48) on Jan. 15.

That loss was the Raptors' third in this Atlantic Division series this season, but all have been by seven or fewer points.

Toronto, a 94-88 loser Dec. 12 in the Nets' only visit, aren't in playoff contention, but it's still fighting to pick up as many wins as possible. The Raptors have won four of five, the last two against Chicago, after dropping seven of eight.

"I'm not happy, I'm not satisfied, I'm disappointed as anyone that we didn't make the playoffs, but we're taking steps," coach Dwane Casey said following Friday's 97-88 home win.

The Raptors, who will miss the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, have a chance to win three in a row for the first time since a season high-tying five-game surge from Feb. 8-19.

They could be without rookies Terrence Ross (sprained ankle) and Jonas Valanciunas (neck) for a second consecutive game. If Valanciunas can't go, Aaron Gray will likely start at center opposite Brook Lopez.

The Nets' big man, averaging 23.3 points during the win streak, missed the team's last three games in Toronto due to injuries.

It's uncertain if Brooklyn forward Gerald Wallace (lower left leg contusion) will be sidelined for a second straight game.

If the Nets can win a fourth consecutive road game - something they haven't done since Nov. 26-Dec. 6, 2008 - they'll earn their first sweep of the Raptors since going 4-0 against them in 2002-03.

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