The Brooklyn Nets' disappointing 2023-24 campaign is nearly in the books. For many fans, the final buzzer can't come soon enough.

After trading Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at last year's deadline, ending a star-studded era that produced underwhelming results, Brooklyn got off to a promising start this season. The new-look squad opened the year 13-10. However, that stretch proved to be an aberration.

The Nets have posted the NBA's seventh-worst record since December 14 (19-38). Their 25th-ranked offense during that span has bordered on unwatchable. The defense hasn't been much better, ranking 20th. Before Brooklyn's final home game Wednesday, a 106-102 win over the Toronto Raptors, Mikal Bridges addressed the crowd and acknowledged the toll the team's struggles have taken on fans.

“On behalf of my teammates and the Nets organization, we appreciate you guys coming out this year. I know it's been a tough year, but we appreciate you guys hanging on with us,” Bridges said. “We'll be back next year.”

Nets home crowd fuels another victory

Mar 23, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Mikal Bridges (1) gestures after making a three point shot
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets gave the fans something to cheer for after Bridges' comments. In front of a sellout crowd for the third time in the last four home games, Brooklyn clawed out a last-minute win.

A new frontcourt duo of Nic Claxton and emerging rookie Noah Clowney led the way, combining for 12 blocks as the Nets held the Raptors to 35.2 percent shooting from two. Brooklyn rejected 15 total shots during the win, the most ever at Barclays Center. Dennis Schroder came up clutch against his former team, scoring 15 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to go with seven rebounds and nine assists.

Fans packed the arena and provided a true home-court advantage, a surprising development in each of the Nets' last three wins after they were eliminated from postseason contention.

“Our fan base just energizes us every time we get a stop or we get a big play. They just come alive, and it makes our players come alive, so the energy we felt for them,” interim head coach Kevin Ollie said. “I didn't think it was gonna be that many people. I mean, it was standing room only in there. They filled that building up and you can just feel the spirit, you can just feel them cheering for us each and every play, and I'm glad we gave them something to go home with.”

Home support catches Mikal Bridges and Nets teammates by surprise

Bridges posted 11 points and two assists on 3-of-9 shooting in 23 minutes. To the surprise of many, he did not play in the fourth quarter. After an All-Star-level stretch to close last season, the 27-year-old has come crashing back to earth during the second half of this year.

Bridges has averaged 16.0 points on 39.8 percent shooting since the All-Star break, a driving factor in Brooklyn's struggles. He's taken a backseat to Cam Thomas and Schroder over the last month, reverting to a complementary off-ball role. Following Wednesday's win, Bridges explained his pregame comments and commended the fan base for their support this season.

“I just hate that it had to be like this. You know, just the season ending like this while there's a lot of playoff basketball left. I know it's not fun for them, it's definitely not fun for us,” he said. “We've been surprised [at the recent fan support] given how poor we've been playing all year, but it just shows the true fans and how much they really care. You heard it when we were winning games early in the year, and even last year, like, they're there. But to bring it when we're not playing our best is really dope to see.

“It's good [to get a win tonight]. Just send them off with some faith and some hope. I know this season hasn't been the greatest season and I'm just happy that they stuck with us and we can give them some wins before the season ends.”