When the unmistakable sense of despair in the Nets was shut down, coach Steve Nash reached into the deep cuts of his chairs on Saturday and called out the former star in the twilight. Blake Griffin opened the warm-up, with a few threads, and reported it to the scorer’s table.
Griffin, 33, has an ankle and surgically repaired knee that had a complete cartilage distribution earlier in his career – even while he was swimming in mid-size sedans as one of the faces of the NBA. But he did not have time to play for 21 days, dating back to the regular season. Now that the Nets are trailing the Celtics in Game 3 of their first round of playoff series, Nash has turned to Blake for anything, anything – a spark, a raise, maybe even a miracle.
The Nets were ready to take what they could, and within a few glorious minutes at the Barclays Center, Griffin took over. He sank a few 3-pointers. He struggled to lift. He even tried to defend Jason Tatum as the Celtics looked for favorable matches against him.
Miracles alone do not win the playoff series and especially the championships. And while there was a time, not so long ago, when the Nets were hailed as the latest supergroup to seem to have achieved great success, they found a difficult way to make titles impossible or rush packing after months of injury and dysfunction. .
“I just felt we were not having the right spirit throughout the game,” Griffin said after the Nets’ 109-103 loss that brought them to the brink of an early season.
Boston, a team that was ascending under Ime Udoka, under its first-year coach, can close the Nets on Monday night with a series clean-up and it is probably only a matter of time before it ends, even though neither team is. Returned to NBA history from a three-game deficit in any series.
Aside from this uncomfortable truth, the Nets clearly know that the Celtics are a more perfect, cohesive team. Just listen to them. Griffin brought in the highest level of Celtics defense. “This is a great defensive team,” he said. Kevin Durant named their length. “I just think they are bigger than us,” he said. , “He said.) This is not the formula for winning nets.
On Saturday, the Nets offered plenty of small moments that reflected bigger problems. But consider one of their final assets, as Durant dribbled against the Celtics’ Grant Williams in hopes of creating some space. With none to be found, Durant threw a return pass to Kairy Irving, who was stopped by Tetum, who ran for Dunk, which meant victory. It was the Nets’s 21st and final match.
“Making a bad decision,” Nash said. “Simple passes do not connect and they go the other way.”
The Celtics crushed Durant and limited him to 22 points per game with 36.5 per cent shooting. On Saturday, he scored just 11 goals from the field. His post-game press conference vaguely sounded like therapy.
“I just thought too much, to be honest, this whole series,” he said.
After shooting 4 to 17 from the pitch in Game 2, Durant entered Game 3, wanting to find teammates more often and “find the ball” in the attack, he said. But he was already reading to himself when he was carefully watching another tragic party in a series full of them.
“Maybe I should take more shots,” he said, adding: “I think I’re just trying to see how I can help everyone. “Sometimes I stay away from the game.”
Durant was not the only star to fight. Irving struck 6 of 17 from the field and missed all seven 3-point attempts. Nash blamed some of their problems on fatigue. Irving fasts Ramadan. Durant has been delivering tremendous minutes over the weeks – times when the Nets were trying to take their place in the post-season, and now when they are trying to survive against a superior opponent.
“They both have to get tired,” Nash said. “Fasting is not easy, do you understand? When I go to play tennis and I do not eat, I feel as if I have passed. So I can not imagine how he feels in the NBA playoffs.
At the same time, the series offered contrasting approaches to team building. The Celtics core consists mainly of the players they created and developed, a list highlighted by Tatum and Jalen Brown. The list also includes Marcus Smart, NBA Player of the Year, and Robert Williams, a fourth-year center who returned to rotation on Saturday about three weeks after knee surgery.
In doing so, the Celtics are reminiscent of rivals such as the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies, teams that have developed continuity and chemistry by protecting their young players.
The Nets went the other way, buying expensive stars like Durant and Irving, while choosing their drafts and prospects. From the beginning it was a championship or a reverse. Sometimes this experiment ends. The Los Angeles Lakers finally won the championship in 2020 with a similar scenario. But that seems to be the exception these days, and the Lakers have since collapsed into a pile of very expensive and aged dust, having mortgaged the future to try to win right now. Nets may not be far away.
The Nets, of course, had a particularly disrupted season, and even before the start of Game 3, Nash cut through a short list of challenges his team faces: he did not have Irving for much of the season because he refused to participate. Vaccinated; James Harden Trading with the Philadelphia 76ers; Lost Durant for six weeks due to knee ligament strain. Nash said he does not justify it, but. …
“We had very few pockets where everyone could play,” he said.
At this point they may have only one left.