The Nets got through in Games 1 and 2 at Barclays Center without James Harden, cruising for a pair of home wins in the Eastern Conference semifinals. But in his first road test against a tight defense, his offense got derailed.
Without Harden’s quick-witted demeanor on the court to settle things, the Nets struggled to execute in an 86–83 loss to Milwaukee. He shot only 36.2 percent overall and hit only 3 out of 11 down the stretch in the last half of the fourth quarter.
But Steve Nash said there was much more to be learned from Thursday’s Game 3 loss if Bruce Brown’s last-ditch runner had gone down and stolen a win he clearly didn’t deserve.
“I definitely think it’s a lot easier to learn from loss,” Nash said. “I think win. Sometimes you can sweep things down the rug. You know I think we should have looked at the way we executed, I thought we didn’t score shots.
“We had some forms that we didn’t normally build, but I thought our execution could have been better. Great experience for our guys, as we said a new group, they’re still learning “They’re still figuring things out together and so it’s a good experience for us, even if it’s a painful one.”
A lesson to be learned is to move the ball better and faster. Kyrie Irving reclaims the point guard spot with a Harden hamstrung. He had 22 points and five rebounds but only one assist.
The Nets had just 15 assists for the game.
Brown appeared to be taking a shot and at the end of the game doubled in discomfort. But both he and Nash said the guard was not seriously injured.
“No, I’m good,” said Brown.
Contrary to the coaching call, when the Nets closed an inbound, it led to a mad scramble just to keep possession. He didn’t call a timeout and Brown got — and missed — the final attempt with just over six seconds.
A few seconds earlier, the Nets expected Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer to call a timeout. But the two-time NBA Coach of the Year let the action go, and Jure Holiday became the final game-winner with 11 seconds to play.
“Just to show you it could go either way. Less than 24 seconds into those finals I thought Bud was about to call the timeout. I’m sure others on the floor did too,” Irving said. “And they went for the two quickies that had kept them one. It took the pressure off them to come down and into an organized set.”
Harden (right hamstring tightness), Jeff Greene (left plantar fascia strain) and Spencer Dinwiddie (partially torn ACL, right knee) were all out for the nets. Green is making progress and isn’t out yet from Sunday’s Game 4.
Brown has announced that he is donating $50 to @SCOfamily for every playoff rebound. It usually isn’t much for a guard, but on Thursday his 11 boards give him 49.