Despite not having received a factor but, the Nets will open the playoffs Saturday in opposition to the visiting Celtics carrying the scrutiny of being favorites and the burden of championship-or-bust expectations.
The Nets say carry it on. Pressure isn’t an issue; it’s a privilege.
“Yeah, for me, basketball, sports — professional sports, but any level — is about pressure. It’s about playing with pressure, embracing pressure, enjoying pressure,” coach Steve Nash stated. “That’s why I would like you to be excited for the playoffs, as a result of you’ve stress. There’s actual penalties. That’s what makes it enjoyable. That’s why you place within the further reps. Some individuals take care of it higher than others, however the concept is that is what all of us do that for: To face stress and to do it when it actually counts.
“It’s nice to do in the regular season. It’s nice in pressure moments in the regular season to succeed, but the most rewarding and the biggest challenge is doing it in the playoffs when it really matters. That’s the carrot, the bonus of playing in the playoffs, is that you get to face that pressure and get to try to overcome it. That’s exciting. That’s what our group is excited for and, and is looking forward to.”
The worst group in basketball 4 years in the past, the Nets have abruptly gone from invisible males to nice expectations because of lastly having a wholesome Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, the latter off minute restrictions.
They earned the No. 2 seed within the Eastern Conference, and can face Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and the Celtics in prime time (8 p.m., ABC) earlier than a crowd of 13,000 at Barclays Center.
That’s when the regular-season preamble offers option to playoff mode.
“You know the significance of the season, but I think all the great players in this league, they understand from Day 1 training camp is preparing you for the postseason,” Durant stated, including, “Every player who is expected to play in the postseason has been getting ready for it since Day 1.”
And going all the best way this postseason is why common supervisor Sean Marks shoved all his chips to the center of the desk within the commerce for Harden.
“We have high expectations for ourselves that we set going back a couple of years ago with some of the moves that we made to put this roster in place, and also including some moves we made this year,” Marks stated on ESPN Radio. “I think we know what’s at stake. We’ll own it.”
Due to accidents, absences and COVID-19, the Nets’ Big 3 have performed solely eight video games and 202 minutes collectively all season. No group has ever received a championship with its high three scorers having performed that few regular-season video games collectively.
The first time the Big 3 strains up with Joe Harris — again from his glute harm — and both Blake Griffin or Nic Claxton, would be the first time all 12 months these 5 have performed on the identical time.
They haven’t had practically sufficient time collectively to be at most cohesion. But they’ll discover out if it’s sufficient to assert their first championship — the Nets’ acknowledged objective.
“Someone said to me the amount of minutes they’ve played on the floor together is shorter than ‘The Irishman,’ ” Steve Nash deadpanned. “We know it. We accept it. We recognize it.”
But can they overcome it?
“Everybody in this league has been going through protocols and injuries and not having a lot of continuity with their lineups. That’s just the name of the game this year,” stated Durant, who will possible spend time guarding Tatum after the Celtics star scored 50 factors within the play-in win over the Wizards.
With Jaylen Brown out, the Nets will blitz the ball out of Tatum’s fingers. They’re anticipated to dispatch the Celtics. And whoever is subsequent. And whoever is subsequent after that.
They admit something lower than a hoop will sting.
“Without a doubt. There’ll be some part of me that says wow it was disappointing we didn’t reach our goals, as lofty as they may be. I do think it’s important to visualize the goal and own it,” Marks stated on WFAN. “Let’s be honest: We’re not trying to make the first round of the playoffs. This team has loftier expectations and goals than that.”