The Brooklyn Nets have hit a rough patch with four losses in their last five games that’s resulted in them sliding to the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. However, they will have every opportunity to right the ship this week with winnable games against the Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards before a road game against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.


The Nets, who are 26-31-3 against the spread this season, did receive some good news with the return of Joe Johnson from a foot injury that had kept him sidelined for three games. He struggled a bit in the Nets loss to the Chicago Bulls over the weekend, but Johnson could provide a lift moving forward as he eases back into the rotation.


Speaking of the rotation, head coach P.J. Carlesimo said he plans to make changes this week in order to help shore up the Nets defense. The biggest adjustment Carlesimo will make is having both of his centers—Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche—on the court together for more minutes in order to boost the teams interior defense. As a result, the likes of Kris Humphries and Reggie Wayne are expected to play a diminished role moving forward, according to ESPN.


This could prove to be a smart move for the Nets as the season heads into crunch time. New Jersey is just three games clear of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and their margin for error is dwindling.


Even with the changes, for handicappers the Nets remain a tough team to back with much confidence in their NBA picks moving forward. They tend to play to their level of competition, which doesn’t work when giving away points on the line. With that said, Charlotte and Washington seem to be the ideal testing grounds for the new rotation and perhaps things can turn around this week.