When the Philadelphia 76ers lost 101-100 to the streaking Denver Nuggets– winners of 14 straight–Brooklyn clinched a playoff berth for the first time in five years. The Nets (40-28) are vastly improved from last year’s team (then the New Jersey Nets) that won only 12 games. Two factors have been instrumental to the Nets success this season: the productivity of Brook Lopez and the firing of Avery Johnson. Lopez has been nothing short of spectacular when he’s been healthy (he missed some games earlier in the season because of an ankle injury). He’s averaging 19 points and 7.0 rebounds per game and was named to his first All-Star team. As for the firing of Coach Avery Johnson, it was a decision that I did not agree with. But it’s easier to dispose of a coach than it is with players for underperformance. Since the firing, Brooklyn’s record is 26-14. Unfortunately for Johnson, the Nets’ recent success speaks to how desperately they needed a new voice to salvage a promising season.