Ian Eagle breaks down ‘tough’ Nets-Bucks playoff matchup

Play-by-play man Ian Eagle, who calls NBA video games for TNT and the YES community, offers his blow-by-blow insights on the Nets-Bucks sequence and extra.

Q: These Nets are perceived now as villains, correct?

A: (Laugh) Yeah … I believe they’re conscious of it, they usually’re OK with it. That means persons are paying consideration. That signifies that they’ve resonated with the general public in some method — they didn’t select the position, the position selected them. And generally there’s nothing you are able to do about that. There are NBA those who don’t have any pores and skin within the recreation, but discover themselves rooting in opposition to the Nets not directly.

Q: Because?

A: Because they’re ultra-talented (chuckle), and when one thing will get that a lot consideration in our society, for each motion there’s a response. That’s simply how it’s.

Q: How have they confronted the championship-or-bust expectations?

A: Head-on. They perceive that this crew shall be judged on their playoff outcomes. Everybody knew what they signed up for. This is what Brooklyn had been constructing for. [GM] Sean Marks is de facto good, very shrewd, and I’m unsure that anyone might have are available in and accomplished the job that he’s accomplished. He had a transparent plan when he took over, and every step alongside the best way, he’s executed it in the appropriate method.

Q: Describe the connection between the crew and Brooklyn.

A: I sense a sense of delight within the borough, that this crew is representing them, and extra individuals across the nation are seeing Brooklyn on the larger stage. How they match into the general panorama of New York stays this fixed query. But, I believe what Sean Marks and his employees decided once they took over … that’s not the final word objective — profitable New York. It’s to win the NBA championship. If you win, good issues will occur alongside the best way. For a few years, the Nets’ philosophy was to compete with the Knicks. And someplace throughout the transition to new administration, that modified. For the higher. Just be a high-quality crew and a top-flight group, and also you’ll see the fruits of your labor.

Ian Eagle previews the Nets-Bucks NBA playoff matchup.
Ian Eagle
E. H. Wallop

Q: What do you keep in mind concerning the evening Kevin Durant tore his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals?

A: I keep in mind that his title began popping up for the Knicks and the Nets, and another groups across the NBA, and that occurred on the largest stage. I felt horrible for him individually, I can keep in mind the ache that he had, and all the things that surrounded it — Did he come again too quickly? Was he pushing it? Was it related to his earlier harm? — all of these questions swirled in my head. And then, you leap forward to: What does this imply for the next season? Which we later realized that there can be no following season for him on the court docket. … How wouldn’t it have an effect on free company? How wouldn’t it have an effect on his future? Would he ever be the identical participant? Then when the Nets signed him, you begin to assume: How is that this going to work? He’s gonna be off for an prolonged time frame, can he ever get again to who he was? And clearly, we’ve seen the reply this 12 months.

Q: What was your response when KD and Kyrie Irving signed with the Nets over the Knicks?

A: It felt surreal. There was that second the place you double-take to guarantee that this wasn’t a joke. Because the Nets had been a punch line for thus lengthy, and it simply gave them validation as a franchise, and a degree of relevance they’ve by no means skilled.

Q: Is KD 90 % again to what he was? How do you gauge the place he’s now?

A: What I’ve seen of him, he’s 100% again to what he was. I’ve not seen any drop-off in explosiveness. … Now naturally, with age, your recreation modifications, you regulate. He’s one of many premier jump-shooters within the NBA, so this was not a giant leap for him to make some alterations to his strategy. But Kevin Durant ended up on the ground as a lot as any participant on the Nets this season, and each time, you could have that one second in your mind: Is he OK? Is he gonna rise up? And time and again and once more, he continued to play with reckless abandon this season. He simply strikes me because the all-in type of man. He’s not a dip-your-toe-in-the-pool kind of participant. When he’s on the market, he’s going all-out.

Q: He’s received two championships. What do you sense drives him?

A: I believe he’s had a chip on his shoulder from the day he got here into the league. And all these years later, even with a Hall of Fame profession, there’s one thing else that drives him … whether or not it’s respect … whether or not he makes use of doubt from others as gas … he will get locked in. I keep in mind rising up, I used to be at all times in awe of Bernard King’s recreation face — I believe Kevin Durant is at that degree. He places on a recreation face, and nothing goes to crack the veneer. … He’s acquired quite a bit swirling round his head, and he’s been ready to make use of concepts in numerous walks of life. But relating to basketball, he’s all enterprise — this man shouldn’t be screwing round.

Q: Describe Kyrie’s uniqueness on the court docket.

A: Having accomplished this for thus a few years, and dealing Jason Kidd’s video games and Vince Carter’s video games, Stephon Marbury earlier than that, Kenny Anderson, Derrick Coleman … I actually thought that I had seen all the things you might see in calling an area crew’s video games. It’s completely different than nationwide video games, after all, when you could have LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, you knew there can be a signature second from these elite gamers. I’ve been blown away by Kyrie Irving, simply from a play-by-play announcer’s viewpoint. You need to be in your toes each time he touches the ball. And not like a number of the different gamers that I discussed, the place the highlights have been very apparent what they did, Kyrie can do it in a refined method that when you look down at your notes, you’ll miss it, as a result of he’s doing one thing so particular in how he handles the ball, his fakes, his hesitations, his switching of arms, his actions. I’ve been dazzled by this man’s capability. And strictly from an announcer’s viewpoint, he has packed in a profession’s price of highlights into two years with the Nets, and he solely performed 20 video games in his first 12 months.

Q: What do you sense drives him? He’s received one championship.

A: I believe he’s pushed by greatness. That he believes he belongs in a sure class and caliber of participant. His ability degree is off the charts. And now, he’s in a state of affairs that he needed to be in. His head’s in place, he’s enjoying on the crew that he needed to play for, he’s enjoying alongside the gamers he needed to be teammates with. Everything has lined up for him. He’s doing all the things that he needed to do on this sport.

Q: He’s a unique type of cat?

A: I believe now that the communication has improved, that works for the Nets. They embrace the truth that he’s not like everyone else, and he’s acquired deep ideas, and a novel philosophy. As lengthy because the traces of communication are open, I believe the Nets have been very a lot the appropriate crew for him. They need this to work, they usually need to create an atmosphere the place it can work, and that’s what they’ve accomplished. I believe that’s why [coach] Steve Nash was employed, and I imagine that Sean Marks had a imaginative and prescient, he simply didn’t know what the trail would appear to be they usually’ve needed to make some modifications alongside the best way this season.

Q: James Harden is the one one of many Big 3 who doesn’t have a hoop. Do you sense he’s probably the most pushed of the Big 3, or no?

A: What I sense is that he’s extremely motivated, and he’s enjoying a high-level recreation of chess. He’s seeing three strikes forward. And he does know what’s at stake. He understands that the window of alternative for him is now. There’s just one factor lacking from his résumé, and it’s a championship. And whereas that they had some possibilities in Houston, they have been by no means fairly ok to recover from the hump. He is aware of that this crew has what it takes to win all of it, and he’s accomplished all the things in his energy to be a terrific teammate, an excellent chief, and doing all of it with the appropriate perspective.

James Harden
James Harden
Getty Images

Q: Do you sense that he’s pushed to vary his repute after leaving Houston?

A: I don’t know if it was a aware effort on his half, however I believe he’s doing what has come naturally to him right here with different stars round him, and he shortly acknowledged what the crew wanted. They wanted somebody that was gonna maintain others accountable, however do it in a manner that made everyone imagine. It’s one factor to name out a teammate, it’s one other to do it with the explanations behind it. Respect is earned, and he’s earned that on this league. But I simply assume he shortly ascertained that this crew wanted a number of the tangibles that he brings, but additionally intangibles.

Q: How does this Big 3 examine to the Nets’ earlier Big 3: Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson?

A: That Big 3 discovered an actual connection via the best way they performed, and the roles that they took on. This Big 3 has greater personalities. … They’re world stars. You can really feel that. Every crew that they play, I sense that that is the largest recreation on their schedule, and I can simply inform from radio interviews and chatting with different broadcasters, there’s a constant curiosity about these guys. Everybody desires to know what makes them tick. Kidd, Carter, Jefferson performed a extremely entertaining fashion, it was profitable. … It wasn’t creating the type of intrigue that this has.

Q: What do you inform everybody once they ask what makes this Big 3 tick?

A: Highly pushed … undoubtedly on the identical web page … they perceive the target … and I believe what struck me was when the crew acquired Harden, it modified the entire dynamic. He turned the unifier. He turned the chatty kind within the locker room conserving issues free, conserving it mild. Everything shifted when he was acquired. Something was lacking, and it was arduous to place your finger on it, after which Harden offered all of the lacking items.

Q: Do you assume the Nets might have been championship timber had the commerce not been made?

A: I believe they might have been extremely aggressive with [Caris] LeVert and [Jarrett] Allen, and they’d have discovered a groove. But Harden has shouldered a number of duty, on and off the court docket. On the court docket, I believe everybody has settled into their correct roles. Off the court docket, I believe that’s occurred as properly, the place Harden is consistently speaking and difficult guys, and he’s been the bridge between the teaching employees and the gamers. He simply introduced a way of enjoyable and dedication, and now, this group has a perception.

Q: How would you describe Nash’s teaching fashion?

A: He’s acquired the right temperament for this job — by no means too excessive, by no means too low. He listens. He desires real human interplay. I believe he has a powerful sense of self, however doesn’t faux to have all of the solutions, and that’s relatable for a participant or an assistant coach. He encourages enter, however he additionally has his personal convictions of the way it’s purported to be accomplished. He’s an elite communicator.

Steve Nash (l) speaks with Kevin Durant
Steve Nash (l) speaks with Kevin Durant
NBAE by way of Getty Images

Q: What do you keep in mind about him as a participant?

A: I liked him as a participant. He was the final word competitor, and he made himself right into a star. There have been no ensures popping out of Santa Clara, it took a short time on the skilled degree to hit his stride. … He dedicated himself to it.

Q: Who may very well be an X-factor for the Nets?

A: If Joe Harris is making pictures persistently, they’re powerful to beat. It’s that easy. You can’t guard everyone.

Q: Whatever involves thoughts: Nic Claxton?

A: So a lot potential. He has been like a sponge. This is gonna go down as such an essential season for him due to the truth that he was round greatness, and acquired to see it, and acquired to be a part of it. I believe he and Harden have developed one thing very particular, and The Beard has seen the limitless potential that he brings.

Q: This present model of Blake Griffin?

A: Blake ended up being the right match. They wanted a flexible huge [man], and he’s been simply as essential within the locker room — extremely well-liked, well-respected. The indisputable fact that he understands his position in comparison with what it as soon as was, as a result of bodily he simply can’t do the issues that he used to do as persistently. But he gives bursts for them. Defensively, keen to step in, take fees, hustle performs. … That’s not the widespread journey on this league, former famous person turns into a participant that’s hitting the deck going after free balls, taking hits from greater gamers — he’s accomplished all that, and it’s inspiring. His position goes to vary from spherical to spherical if this crew continues to advance, and Steve Nash goes to have to observe matchups. Boston undoubtedly appeared to benefit from him in any swap. Whoever Griffin was guarding on switches in that Boston sequence, that participant was seeking to take over offensively. That’s gonna be an element on this sequence with Milwaukee, it’s one thing to keep watch over.

Q: Bruce Brown?

A: Another multifaceted participant, performs greater than he’s. Team-first mentality. Can guard a number of positions, and brings only a unbelievable perspective. He has been their heart on various events this season — he’s 6-foot-4! He’s been greater than they even anticipated once they acquired him from Detroit.

Q: Jeff Green?

A: His standing shall be big, on this sequence and doubtlessly past. Because the roles are so superfluous now, Jeff Green’s a participant, he’s not a tweener. He could make 3s, he’s a tricky matchup, his all-around abilities have put him able to have an effect on this crew … one other well-respected, well-liked participant. That’s a recurring theme with this crew. They genuinely like each other. That’s a type of forgotten components of the equation, as a result of we get so caught up in what’s occurring on the court docket, however what occurs off the court docket is usually occasions equally essential and might get you thru difficult moments.

Q: How do they defend the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo?

A: (Laugh) That’s a query that each NBA crew has to cope with. I believe a part of the philosophy shall be understanding that he’s gonna get his, however they’ll’t enable Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday and Bryn Forbes and former Net Brook Lopez [to be] stepping above and past what their regular numbers can be. Part of defending a famous person is recognizing that they’re not gonna shut him down, however it’s how he will get his factors, and the way arduous do you make him work on the opposite finish of the ground? KD is a wonderful defender, and he takes delight in it, he cares about it. I’ve to presume that we’re gonna see extra of KD on the Greek Freak than we did throughout the common season.

Q: Holiday?

A: He was the lacking piece. He has shouldered a lot duty for them. Late in video games, he will get them organized. He’s a terrific pick-and-roll participant. His pull-up jumper is a weapon. He’s a hybrid, and he’s one of many high on-the-ball defenders within the league. So he’ll flip protection into offense, he creates for his teammates, and he’s a really calming presence. That’s been among the finest pickups within the NBA this 12 months.

Q: Middleton?

A: He’s the Net killer. Inside-outside abilities, good contact, powerful matchup, super shooter, additionally very stoic, nothing appears to rattle him. He’s one of many extra underrated gamers within the league.

Q: Who may very well be an X-factor for the Bucks?

A: Bryn Forbes has been superb in his position. He’s additionally had some good performances beforehand as a member of the San Antonio Spurs in opposition to the Nets. Similar to Joe Harris if he’s simply making pictures at a ridiculous price, they develop into a really tough crew to protect. I believe individuals will level to P.J. Tucker and say his defensive presence, his toughness, making an attempt to bottle up Kevin Durant. He’s definitely not somebody that’s a wallflower, he’ll discuss on the market. He brings an edge. And the Nets have had issues with Bobby Portis throughout his earlier stops.

Q: Are the Nets susceptible on the glass in opposition to this crew?

A: Yeah they’re. They’re gonna have their arms full on the glass in opposition to this group. And it’s humorous: Brook Lopez is the Nets’ all-time main scorer … don’t assume for a second he received’t be motivated. It didn’t finish properly in his eyes. He needed to remain.

Q: The Nets’ protection was a preseason concern. Has it improved?

A: There’s extra connectivity on the defensive finish, however there have been lapses. Comparing to what we noticed early within the season to what we see now, a lot improved, far more aggressive defensive crew.

Q: What is the important thing to the sequence?

A: The key for the Nets is constant to construct on the chemistry that we noticed between the Big 3 in Round 1. The common season there have been simply flashes of it simply based mostly on the restricted time collectively. But in opposition to Boston, there have been stretches the place they merely took over video games. Every spherical is at all times going to be a critical problem for them to cope with defensively. Offensively, I don’t know if there’s a crew on the market that may maintain them down for 4 video games in a sequence.

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo
NBAE by way of Getty Images

Q: Do you anticipate a seven-game sequence?

A: I anticipate an extended sequence. I believe the Bucks are higher geared up than they have been the final two years once they have been the No. 1 seed within the Eastern Conference, but this group, to me, is a extra full crew. They imply enterprise.

Q: How huge of a loss is Donte DiVincenzo for them?

A: On the defensive finish, his versatility, his toughness, he’s been a winner in his profession going again to the Villanova days. … I believe that’s an under-the-radar hit for them.

Q: Do you could have any favourite Brooklyn issues?

A: (Laugh) On a private degree, Brooklyn has been a giant a part of my life. My father grew up in Brooklyn, Borough Park, he went to Erasmus Hall High School. I lived in Queens as a child, however I might keep in Brooklyn on the weekends with my father’s ex-wife, and my half-sisters. This was within the ’70s. Brooklyn was bustling, and the way individuals spoke to at least one one other (chuckle), and the language, the vibe, all of it is extremely a lot entrenched in my mind from my youth. I had no thought after I acquired the Nets job in 1994, and I moved to the state of New Jersey the next 12 months, that someway Brooklyn would reenter my life on this method.

Q: Have you ever ridden the Cyclone?

A: Yes, many occasions … many Nathan’s scorching canine, many slices of Brooklyn pizza. It was a big a part of my life as a child.

Q: What are your thoughts on Marv Albert retiring?

A: It’s the top of an period. An icon. I don’t imagine that I might be on this enterprise if not for him. Watching him, listening to him as a child, impressed me to need to do that. To assume that his profession has spanned almost 60 years of play-by-play on the highest degree is tough to wrap your mind round. I assumed it was simply excellent that he acquired to do another recreation at MSG, and I’m certain there have been a number of feelings for him. We’re seeing the top of one of many biggest broadcast careers within the historical past of the medium, and he’s affected generations of play-by-play announcers together with his work.

Q: What do you consider current fan habits?

A: I used to be considering early within the season when all of those main highlights have been going down at Barclays Center and I’m making the decision and considering to myself: “There’s nobody else here in attendance to enjoy this. What’s this gonna feel like when the fans make their way back inside arenas?” It’s the lifeblood of the game. Now, with all of that mentioned, I do assume the traces blurred in some unspecified time in the future the place followers believed paying for a ticket gave them free license to be a moron. And not all followers. Just sure people. And that has to finish. We’ve gotten to a degree the place that is actually past unacceptable. And it’s grabbing the headlines away from what needs to be the subject of dialog — the video games themselves, not the conduct. I do assume alcohol performs a task, and it’s this nasty cycle that’s taken place. … It’s simply idiotic habits.

Q: Would you, or have you ever, thought-about rising a beard like James Harden’s?

A: (Laugh) I would want a Sharpie to fill in all of the clean spots. I’ve tried, and it’s not search for me.

Q: Other than YES sidekick Sarah Kustok, what different celebrities are you anticipating at Barclays?

A: (Laugh) The Nets undoubtedly are a scorching ticket proper now that individuals need to see the Big 3 in motion. You title it, there’ll be skilled athletes there, there’ll be entertainers there, there’ll be rappers there, musical stars. … It’s gonna run the gamut.

Q: Final ideas?

A: This matchup is a tricky one. But when you’re gonna win a title, no one ever mentioned it’s gonna be straightforward. It’s arduous. You’ve gotta have the horses. And they’ve acquired the horses.

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