After trading James Harden, the Brooklyn Nets are down to a superstar duo, not a “big three.” However, the three most important people for Brooklyn laid an egg in Game 2.
Kyrie Irving was bad, Kevin Durant was worse, and Steve Nash was the worst of the three. Game 2 was one of the most frustrating Nets performances we will ever see.
Irving and Durant are supposed to be the pillars upon which a championship is won. They both have extensive experience in the playoffs as cold-blooded killers. They couldn’t buy a bucket on Wednesday night. Even worse, they were turning the ball over left and right.
Durant and Irving were a combined 8-for-30 from the floor with eight turnovers. KD was 0-for-10 in the second half, but his saving grace was a friendly whistle. He knocked down 18 of his 20 free throws.
This superstar duo deserves a heaping helping of the blame, but Nash’s showing was even more concerning. The Nets coaching staff made a few nice adjustments to the game plan early on.
Seth Curry wasn’t matched up with Daniel Theis defensively, which led to better rebounding from Brooklyn. Durant had a little more space to operate in the first quarter. Even Bruce Brown was more involved offensively as he operated as a safety valve when doubles would fly to Durant and Irving.
On the flip side, the in-game adjustments are completely non-existent. It was easy to give Nash a pass during the regular season. The rotating lineup, injuries, and general uncertainty with the roster made his job difficult. Those excuses don’t pass muster in the playoffs.
The Nets held a big lead, but even when Boston would cut into that lead, Nash never seems to call the momentum-stopping timeout at the right time. Furthermore, he went away from his best player on the night — Goran Dragic.
Nash’s old backup put up 16 points in 11 minutes off the bench in the first half. When the playoffs come around, Dragic knows exactly what needs to be done. Brooklyn signed the veteran point guard for these exact moments. Durant and Irving were struggling offensively, but Dragic was picking up the slack.
Patty Mills played nearly seven minutes in the third quarter while Dragic was glued to the bench for most of it. Leaving Dragic on the bench to go cold was Nash’s biggest mistake of the night. He was the best player on the floor in the first half before becoming a complete non-factor in the second half.
Players win games and if the Nets are going to turn this series around, it’s on Durant and Irving’s shoulders. However, coaches can certainly lose games and that’s exactly what Nash did in Game 2. There is no doubt that his seat is heating up given the trajectory of this series.
Brooklyn has two days off to reevaluate the situation. With their backs against the wall, the Nets need to win two games in Barclays Center to even up this series.