Steve Nash admitted it. He’d gotten swayed. He’d gotten seduced. Things went so nicely for the Nets of their first playoff collection, a dominant win in 5 video games over the Celtics. Everyone emerged from that collection upright, save for Jeff Green. Everyone contributed.
Everyone assumed when the Nets and their gamers received a few video games collectively they’d start to hum like a Ferrari engine. We’d began to listen to that hum.
Nash heard the hum.
Then he heard the scream.
The voice belonged to James Harden. So did the hamstring that started to bark at him simply 43 seconds into the Nets’ opening sport in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks within the Eastern Conference semifinals at Barclays Center on Saturday night time.
Yes, Nash admitted. He’d truly allowed himself, in a second of weak spot, to assume the Nets would possibly simply determine a solution to emerge from these playoffs and not using a second like this, and with out the corresponding absence.
“I was there prior to last night,” Nash stated of reaching that high quality however fleeting second of Zen. “But that’s not our reality and we have to accept it and enjoy the opportunity we have regardless of the adversity.”
Now, deep breath: the Nets wound up fine Saturday night. They wound up higher than high quality, in truth. They shrugged off the preliminary shock to the system. They received terrific performances by the remaining two-thirds of the Big 3 (29 factors, 10 rebounds for Kevin Durant, 25 factors and eight assists from Kyrie Irving).
They received a throwback effort from Blake Griffin (18 factors, 14 rebounds). They received the type of intriguing minutes off the bench, 12 factors in half-hour, that made Mike James such an intriguing late-season addition. They held the 3-point-happy Bucks to twenty p.c from past the arc. They gained going away.
Even taking part in the ultimate 47 minutes and 17 seconds with out their quarterback. It was the type of effort that definitely had that Nets-hating faction of the NBA and the league’s fan base take pause.
“You never know what will happen over the course of the playoffs,” Nets guard Joe Harris stated.
Some belongings you do know, nonetheless, and that is one: Harden is out of Game 2 Monday night time. There’s no telling what number of video games he would possibly miss, however we do know this isn’t a brand new downside for him. And hamstrings, as a rule, require relaxation above all else with a purpose to get higher. And it’s unlikely the Bucks, or anybody else nonetheless alive in these playoffs, will associate with hitting the pause button.
So there may be, as Nash calls it, their reality.
“We’ll have to play even better to win Game 2,” Nash stated.
And that’s one other a part of the reality. You can joke about how the Bucks had been handed a present Saturday night time and instantly parted with it, tossing it into the East River. But now they may have time to arrange for the Nets minus Harden. And they’re a staff that has suffered sufficient of their very own playoff agonies the previous few years that they’re well-versed on the whims and wherefores of an NBA playoff collection.
The Nets performed 23 video games with out Harden as soon as they imported him from Houston and went 12-11 in these video games. They are additionally a staff that can by no means must be checked on for wavering or quavering confidence. They imagine in next-man-up as each credo and mantra. They have lived that each one yr.
And it’s their reality now.
“Everyone has to be ready when their number’s called,” Harris stated.
Said Nash: “We’re just preparing for [Monday]. That’s our focus. We understand [Harden’s injury] is a lot of guesswork, a lot of ups and downs, and hard to predict.”
The Nets don’t trouble to hunt anybody’s sympathy, so they won’t be upset to find there may be little or no on the market. We all the time knew it was going to be a loopy gauntlet, maintaining this fragile combine collectively the entire method. Nash knew it too, even when he let his guard down ever so fleetingly. Won’t make that mistake once more. This is their reality.