One tumultuous season after another of colossal challenges has become the cliché for Steve Nash and the Nets.
The road to their current predicament in a first-round playoff series against the Celtics has been riddled with bumps — from Kyrie Irving’s refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, to Kevin Durant’s mid-season knee injury and the February trade of James Harden and the continued absence of his successor, Ben Simmons.
The Nets must now somehow overcome the slumps of Durant and Irving and an improbable attempt to become the first team in NBA history to climb out of a 0-3 hole in a best-of-7 playoff series, starting with Game 4 on Monday night at the Barclays Center.
“We go to Barclays to try and win a game and enjoy it,” Nash said after a walk-through practice session in Brooklyn on Sunday. “It’s a lot better than not having that opportunity. I think for our group it’s trying to find that determination and belief.”
The first three games against the ball-necked Celtics haven’t given much reason to believe the Nets can win the proverbial ‘game in a row’ four times – including twice in Boston.
The numbers are staggering: Of the 143 teams that fell three games behind in NBA playoff history, 89 were swept and zero returned to win their streak.
Only five teams in professional sports — the 2004 Red Sox versus the Yankees in the ALCS and four NHL teams (1942 Maple Leafs, 1975 Islanders, 2010 Flyers, and 2014 Kings) — have accomplished the feat.
“I think you always have to have perspective in life,” Nash said. “It looks ominous, 0-3. … So you always have to remember that you can’t play three games in one. You play one, try to win the game. And try to find that belief and that perspective that it’s a game, we’re going to play a good game and drop the chips.
Simmons had his sights set on Game 4 for his first game of the season, but the Nets ruled him out in their official injury report on Sunday because of the back injury the three-time All-Star has been struggling with since taking over on Feb. 10 Philadelphia at the Harden -Blockbusters.
Nash also declined to consider how the season would have been different if Irving had been vaccinated against COVID-19. The seven-time All-Star began the season away from the team before returning to only road games in January. Irving didn’t make his home debut until Mayor Eric Adams approved an exception for athletes and artists in late March.
“I don’t think about it,” Nash said. “It’s not realistic. It’s not a worthy exercise. We deal with what lies ahead. We act in reality. And our reality is what we face, and if you don’t face that reality with honesty and presence, you’re not going to get anywhere.”
The reality of the series for the Nets was that Irving and Durant were held by Boston’s top-rated defense to a combined 8-for-30 shooting night in Game 2 and to 16 points apiece in Game 3.
Still, the Nets lost to a win in Game 1 to a last-second drive from Jayson Tatum. They also gambled away a 17-point lead in Game 2 before losing by six at home on Saturday.
“We lost three games on average by maybe a little more than four points. So anything is possible and we just have to find the solution,” Nash said. “It’s a difficult season for us. We’ve dealt with a million things, we’ve had no continuity and we’re a brand new group playing against a team that has played many games together over the past few years. They play their best basketball and have really evolved under it [coach] I [Udoka] and we are in a different position.
“We have to embrace it and enjoy it and tackle the game [Monday] Night with the best spirit and attitude we can muster.”
https://nypost.com/2022/04/24/steve-nash-keeping-it-simple-as-nets-try-to-stage-historic-rally/ Steve Nash keeps it simple as the Nets attempt to stage a historic rally