A recent hot streak has the Brooklyn Nets approaching legitimate contender status for the first time this season. After a 2-7 start, the Nets have posted the league’s best record (13-3) over their last 16 games.

While Brooklyn has the feel of a rejuvenated team on both ends, there’s something to be said about their favorable schedule during the recent stretch. Just four of their 13 wins came against teams over .500. Two of those were against Portland and Memphis with Damian Lillard, Ja Morant and Desmond Bane all sidelined. Another came against the 16-15 Atlanta Hawks, who look far from a championship contender during their unstable start to the season.

Brooklyn’s upcoming schedule will offer a much different test.

Their next three games feature the Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavalierss. The Bucks (22-8) and Cavs (21-11) hold the NBA’s first and third-best records. The Warriors have struggled early but still boast a talented roster fresh off a title. While head coach Jacque Vaughn said his team will take a similar approach, he acknowledged the added focus necessary to beat the league’s best.

“(There) definitely has to be an increased level of focus and readiness,” Vaughn said after Tuesday’s practice. “You don’t want to go into a game and dig yourself into a hole like we had the last two games double digits because might not be any digging your way out are those. Overall healthy group and look forward to seeing game by game with that what that brings.”

Brooklyn overcame 18- and 19-point deficits in their last two wins over Toronto and Detroit. However, the team is aware such a start against their upcoming opponents will likely result in a different ending.

“It’s a big challenge for us. We’ve gotta raise our level of play. The way we’ve been playing sometimes, we can’t come out with a lack of energy,” Royce O’Neale said. “We’ve gotta set the tone from jump and we’ve gotta execute.”

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Outside of their last two first quarters, the Nets have played high-level basketball for the majority of the recent stretch. Brooklyn ranks third in offensive rating and 12th in defensive rating over their last 15 games.

Vaughn’s hiring following the departure of Steve Nash appeared to inject some life into a reeling Nets squad. The head coach alluded to increased attention to detail when speaking about the turnaround.

“I think it’s taking care of some of those little details, little things that probably bit us early,” Vaughn said. “Whether that’s the rebounding piece, whether that’s a turnover piece, whether that’s the fouling piece. We’re getting some growth in a lot of different areas. That’s helping us produce wins. And I think at the end of the day, that concentration level of trying to win that day’s game has been heightened with this group, which is good.”

Brooklyn’s recent success, as well as the outstanding play of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, has generated buzz around the league after many wrote the team off. Veteran forward T.J. Warren said the Nets will need to ramp up that attention to detail in upcoming matchups.

“The focus gotta tighten up when you play better teams,” Warren said. “Playing for this team, the other team is gonna get up to play against us. It just is what it is. We’ve gotta be prepared for every team’s best shot.”

Brooklyn heads into Wednesday’s matchup with Golden State with a clean injury report for the first time all season. The Warriors will be without Steph Curry, who is sidelined for several weeks with a shoulder injury.

The upcoming stretch offers the Nets a prime opportunity to cover more ground in the standings. Brooklyn sits 3.5 games back of the Bucks for first in the East and 1.5 behind the Cavaliers for third.