As the Brooklyn Nets find themselves in a 0-3 hole to the Boston Celtics, you can sort of feel the roof caving in on a difficult season. The Celtics had the Nets outclassed in this one. Kevin Durant has been in a funk this series and it persisted at Barclays Center. We didn’t expect that at all. At one point, head coach Steve Nash turned to Blake Griffin to provide a spark. Momentarily it worked. But then, like all other tacts an outmatched Nets unit tried, it fell short. And after the game, Griffin didn’t think the team had the appropriate amount of “attention to detail” or the right “spirit” to get the big win.
Griffin hadn’t seen action since April 2. He never found a consistent role on this team during the 2021-2022 year, after playing an instrumental role a season ago. On Saturday, in a do-or-die moment, Griffin got his number called up and the 33-year-old vet immediately injected some juice into the building, hustling for loose balls and draining a couple of clutch triples. He got the crowd back into it, as did Patty Mills who drew a key charge on Jayson Tatum and drained a monster triple.
BG finished with eight points and a block, going 2-of-3 from distance. Still, it was tough sledding for the whole squad (except Bruce Brown who finished with 26 points) and the Nets were outscored by four points while Griffin was on the floor.
After the game, Griffin had some words that caught the attention of fans on social media. Some feel he was hinting that the Nets coaching staff could have been better. Was Griffin throwing Nash and his staff under the bus?
“I think our attention to detail needs to go up. And that’s from everybody, players included. Especially players, obviously we’re out there. I think we all just need to take a look in the mirror,” Griffin added.
Well, we didn’t think he meant anyone but players until he said, “players included.” Then suddenly we had to wonder who else he meant besides players. And it doesn’t make sense he’d be throwing GM Sean Marks under the bus for overlooking details, does it?
Like which one, trading away James Harden? Probably not what BG meant, huh? So it makes more sense the former All-Star was hinting Nash and his staff may not have had everyone up to speed. And that the players should have done more as well. The line came after he said some stuff about how Seth Curry and Andre Drummond were new to the team and the trade made everything more challenging. But maybe that was the diplomatic “sandwich method.” Offer an excuse, then make your criticism. Then talk about how you and the players can all do more.
Griffin said the Nets veterans, players with tons of playoff experience, like Mills, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving will have to help the team rally to claw back from 0-3. He also expressed he felt the team didn’t play with the right “spirit” on Saturday. That type of phrasing is another code for “the coaching staff didn’t push the right buttons to get everyone motivated.” Maybe Griffin meant that, maybe he meant something else. But it’s not unreasonable that some fans are reading his comments a certain way.
“Bring a certain amount of intensity the next couple of days. And also have the right spirit for the next couple of days I think is important for us. I don’t know that our spirit was right tonight,” Griffin said.
Have a listen and see what you think, maybe we’re just overreacting:
"I think our attention to detail needs to go up. And that's from everybody, players included. Especially players, obviously we're out there. I think we all just need to take a look in the mirror."
-Blake Griffin. I'm sure nobody will read into who else he meant besides players pic.twitter.com/DwtqnM2erv
— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) April 24, 2022
When Irving was next up at the mic, he was asked if he agreed with Griffin’s assessment.
Irving, it should be noted, is a veteran in these types of instances. He knew that if he agreed with a disgruntled player commenting that the team lacked spirit, it might be construed by the media that Irving was endorsing a teammate’s possible opinion that the coaching staff wasn’t good enough. Irving (in this reporter’s humble opinion) saw the whole thing unfolding and didn’t take the bait. He flipped it and wound up taking some blame himself:
"I don't want to be too cliche but, I don't have a lot of answers for how you make up time from Oct. until now."
-Kyrie Irving was asked if he agrees with Blake Griffin's assessment the #nets lacked 'spirit' coming into Game 3. pic.twitter.com/yqqIs6GTXl
— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) April 24, 2022
“I respect Blake’s opinion,” Irving said. “And I honor it. I’m sure just for these last few games, he’s felt like he could make a bigger impact on our team and he should feel that way. And what we saw tonight was just a glimpse of probably what he was capable of doing. And I would love to see more of it. But in terms of our spirit, I think being in what we call the trenches, or being in a series like this, with guys that, we’re all just trying to gel. Usually, you’re gelling around the right time. That team in the other locker room is gelling at the right time. They’ve been gelling since Christmas. So for us, we’re just in a new experience as a group and we just gotta respect that.”
Durant finished Game 3 with just 16 points, eight rebounds, eight dimes, and five turnovers, several of the unforced variety. He’s had a truly abysmal series and the Celtics’ world-class defense, led by former Nets assistant coach Ime Udoka, has stymied KD to a degree we’ve really never seen before. Fans are even wondering if we’ll soon learn he’s hurt.
“I don’t want to be too cliche,” Irving continued, “But I don’t have a lot of answers for how you make up time from October until now.”
Perhaps he’s referring to how much time he personally missed because of the whole vaccination thing. It seems like Irving feels it’s an unfortunate circumstance of playing in NYC.
One gets the sense Irving feels the Nets had an unfair disadvantage other teams did not have to contend with, and regardless of your feelings about his position to not get vaccinated, he has a point.
“When usually teams would be gelling and things would be feeling good. You could put it on me in terms of playing better. Controlling the games better, controlling our possessions, being more in a stance (defensively), not turning the ball over as much. I had five fouls tonight, so you could put it on me, more of just you know, doing more,” Irving said.
Durant was asked the same question about Griffin’s comments that the team lacked spirit. KD agreed, but with a caveat that watered the whole thing down:
"That's a sh–ty game man. A sh–ty game."
-Durant agrees with Blake Griffin that the spirit of the team wasn't where it needed to be. Then leaves post-game in disgust. pic.twitter.com/gtdaJ90xRi
— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) April 24, 2022
“You could say that, you could say that for sure after a loss,” Durant said. “I mean, we all want to win. But I guess you could say that after a loss.”
By adding that you can say that after a loss takes some of the meaning behind the message away. If you can say it after a loss, could you say it about any loss? If you’d say it after every loss, is it ever even worth saying? Do all L’s lack spirit?
Goran Dragic appeared to call out the Nets after a heartbreaking Game 1 L, for what it’s worth. Remember this?
"We were just not focused. We came out [of halftime] our energy was not right. They came out to play and that's how they got that big lead."
-The Celtics made a 23-7 run to open the 3rd, Goran Dragic talks about how the Nets came out of the break too flat. pic.twitter.com/FZSMl9CHvx
— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) April 17, 2022
The Dragon said he felt the team lacked “focus” and “energy” following the half after Game 1 and it sounds an awful lot like the themes Griffin hits on after Game 3, doesn’t it?
My armchair analysis is basically that there is some blame to go around. And that Griffin, who wasn’t in the rotation, as Irving astutely noted, certainly has an axe to grind, so he may not be the most credible narrator here. But he didn’t feel like holding back either. Durant didn’t co-sign the point too much. Neither would Irving. But how they might feel about the coaching staff in their heart of hearts, behind closed doors, is another matter.
KD recently gave Nash a resounding endorsement. Is it possible that’s changed after Game 3? Maybe the script is still being written. Maybe they love Nash and don’t blame him for the myriad things that went wrong all season long. Maybe Griffin is talking about someone on the coaching staff who didn’t clear Ben Simmons in time, who the heck knows. All we know is the Nets are down 0-3. And that stinks.