NEW YORK (WFAN) -- As improbable as it might seem, the Nets are headed to the playoffs.
By beating the Magic on Wednesday night -- and getting help from the Grizzlies, who took out the Pacers -- Brooklyn secured its third consecutive playoff berth.
The eighth-seeded Nets (38-44) will take on the top-seeded Hawks (60-22) in the first round.
"We're happy, excited to be in the playoffs," Nets head coach Lionel Hollins told WFAN co-hosts Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Thursday afternoon. "Now we've gotta prepare to go out there and do battle against the second best team, record-wise, in the NBA."
The Nets are the clear underdogs in this series. But when Benigno offered his take that the pressure is on Atlanta rather than Brooklyn, Hollins strongly disagreed.
"I don't buy the notion that the pressure's on them," Hollins said. "I think when you're confident and you're good, you want to go out there and win. Losing to us would be worse than us losing to them, but there's as much pressure on us as on them because we want to win as well. So it will be that internal pressure that we'll put on ourselves.
"They'll have the same internal pressure because they want to win. But as far as the outside pressure -- that they're supposed to win and all this -- I don't think it's as big a deal as people make. We have to go out there and play well. We have to figure out how to slow them down offensively and we've gotta figure out how to score against them."
The veteran head coach also said that he wasn't bothered by Paul Pierce's negative comments about his time with the franchise and some of the players. He said it means nothing to him, and he won't use it as bulletin-board material to motivate his team.
Game 1 against the Hawks is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Philips Arena in Atlanta.
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