With a little more than a minute remaining in the Nets' final game in New Jersey, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins looked up at the scoreboard and exhaled -- deeply.
It had nothing to do with not having to come to the Garden State again.
After a 20-9 start following the lockout, a dreadful midseason slump and a much-needed late run, Collins had the relief of knowing his 76ers were headed to the postseason for the second straight year.
Philadelphia nailed down the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference and spoiled the Nets' Jersey farewell with a 105-87 victory Monday night.
"Adversity can send you south or make you forge together and be stronger," Collins said. "I think our guys have done that. Every team goes through it, especially in a season like this, where games are piled on with no practice, no rest days, five games in seven nights in five cities, three games in a row. I am so proud of my guys. I really, really am. They answered the bell and when I looked up there with one minute to go and I knew we were going to be in the playoffs, it was a very satisfying feeling."
Thaddeus Young was the catalyst against the Nets. He scored all 15 of his points in the second half to move Philadelphia (34-30) into a tie with the New York Knicks for the No. 7 seed with two games remaining in the regular season and to eliminate the Milwaukee Bucks from the playoffs.
Young, who didn't take a shot in more than 9 minutes playing time in the first half, finished 7 of 8 from the field, with 10 of his points coming after the Nets cut a 15-point deficit to one late in the third quarter.
"We just wanted to get this over with, and finally clinch and not have our minds on other things," Young said of making the playoffs and avoiding a showdown game with Milwaukee on Wednesday. "We wanted to start thinking about the playoffs and getting ourselves mentally prepared and ready physically. It would have been real ugly if we lost tonight."
Collins now intends to rest some players, including Andrew Iguodala. who strained an Achilles' tendon late in the game.
"I think the most important thing is that coach Collins will be able to sleep tonight, and that will probably lead to a peaceful atmosphere," Evan Turner quipped.
Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey bid the NBA team good riddance as prepared to move to Brooklyn in the fall.
The typically blunt Christie said he would shed no tears over the departure of the Nets.
"My message to them is, goodbye," Christie said at an afternoon news conference at Newark Beth Israel Hospital, where he signed a bill to promote organ and tissue donation. "You don't want to stay, we don't want you."
Around the rims
* The Milwaukee Bucks are out of the NBA playoffs, despite getting 25 points from Brandon Jennings in a 92-86 victory over Toronto Raptors. Philadelphia's win eliminated the Bucks. James Johnson had 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Raptors, who have lost four straight games.
* John Wall had 16 points and 14 assists, Nene scored 18 points, Jan Vesely had 16 points on 8-for-8 shooting, and the Washington Wizards handed the Charlotte Bobcats their 21st straight loss, 101-73.
* Tim Duncan scored 18 points and the San Antonio Spurs clinched the top playoff spot in the Western Conference and pushed their win streak to eight, beating the Portland Trail Blazers, 124-89.