The Nets did everything they could to miss the playoffs, but the ineptitude of the Eastern Conference proved to be too much to overcome.

Thanks to the combination of a 101-88 victory over the Magic in Brooklyn and the Pacers’ 95-83 loss in Memphis, the Nets managed to find a way to make it to the postseason for the third year in a row.

Unlike the previous two seasons, however, when they went into the playoffs facing toss-up matchups with the Bulls and Raptors, the Nets will be heavy underdogs against the Eastern Conference-leading Hawks in a series that will tip-off Sunday afternoon in Atlanta.

A subplot of that series will be the fact the Hawks will be swapping first-round picks with the Nets this season — meaning Atlanta will pick 15th overall while Brooklyn will be at No. 29 — as one of the final pieces of the trade that brought Joe Johnson to the Nets in 2012.

“That was three years ago,” Johnson said. “There are two guys left on [the Hawks] who I played with. … I’m happy for those guys, and what they’ve accomplished.

“Obviously Atlanta is home away from home for me, but would I love to go down there and play spoiler? Yes. I’m going to try to go down there and have a good performance game-in and game-out. We have to try to come together and have a good performance collectively, and play together as a team.”

It seemed for large stretches of Wednesday’s game, however, as if the Nets wouldn’t be getting to the postseason at all. They spent almost all of the first three quarters trailing a hopeless Magic team that even managed to lose to the Knicks at home Saturday night. That made it hard for anyone who didn’t know the teams’ records to determine which one was the one fighting for its playoff life.