Nets need Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving to fix their games now

Coach Steve Nash and his Nets have far more immediate concerns than the likelihood of Ben Simmons joining their lineup for Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Celtics on Monday.

First, superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will need to recover from poor shooting performances in two away losses in Saturday’s Game 3 at the Barclays Center to prevent the Nets from falling 3-0 in the best-of-seven series.

Durant is shooting 31.7 percent (13 to 41) with only two 3-pointers made in the first two games, including a 0-10 shown off the field in the fourth quarter of Game 2.

“It happens. I’ve seen Kevin struggle against bad plays a lot of times in his playoff career. … I couldn’t believe and trust Kevin Durant anymore,” Nash said after practice on Friday. “Sometimes you go through those little ones Match bags. We’re playing against a defensively excellent team and against a great team. And they’re doing a great job. But that doesn’t mean things can’t change.

“I think Kevin Durant is one of the best players to ever play this game and he will continue to improve as the series progresses.”

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving #11 react as they sit to the side of the bench
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were effectively handicapped by the Celtics in two games.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash talks to Kevin Durant
Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash talks to Kevin Durant.
Getty Images

Irving, the former Celtic who was fined $50,000 by the NBA for fingering Boston fans during a 39-point performance in the series opener, came through a quiet Game 2 with just 10 Score in 4v13 shooting in 40 minutes.

Boston head coach and former Nets assistant Ime Udoka often had his senior defensive dual team Durant and Irving on the sidelines. The Celtics forced Durant to commit six turnovers in each of their first two games. Boston is expected to get active big man Robert Williams III back for Game 3.

“I think there are ways we can help. I think we’ll keep that to ourselves, but there’s a lot of things that you have to learn every time you play, a lot of things that you have to adapt and adjust to, especially on a series, game after game,” Nash said . “But that’s one part of playoff basketball that I think is fun is the adjustments that you make.

“Sometimes I think when we talk about adjustments people are thinking about massive system shifts. It’s often like putting your feet two feet the other way. It’s not always a massive theoretical change.”

When asked if he thought the Celtics “got away” with overly physical play against Durant and Irving, or if it was “just playoff basketball,” Nash replied, “A little bit of both. You hit the road in the playoffs and sometimes it’s somewhere in that gray area. I think there are definitely games that don’t get called, but that’s probably true of every game. I’m not here to get worked up about refereeing. We are preparing our team and our boys for a basketball game.”

Veteran big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin did not appear in the series, but Nash would not commit to Game 3 rotation changes. He noted that the Celtics won Game 1 on Jayson Tatum’s last-second drive and the Nets led the first half of Game 2 by 17 inches.

“I think we have to keep our nerve here,” Nash said. “I feel safe in our group. As I keep saying, it’s also a new group. So we’re still trying to learn to play together. We’ve never been in a playoff environment together.

“There is one element that we hope we can expand and improve on in the blink of an eye. It’s hard to think ‘let’s change everything’ when we’re trying to see it for the first time and not overreact and acknowledge that we were very unlucky, although I don’t think we played well, very unlucky , not winning by a split second in Game 1 and then had our best half of the series in Game 2 and just couldn’t keep it up. Nets need Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving to fix their games now


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