After playing their first two games with a fully healthy roster (minus Spencer Dinwiddie), the Nets have faced their first injury blow of the playoffs.
Jeff Green — the Nets veteran forward — strained his plantar fascia in his left foot during the Game 2 win over the Celtics and will be re-evaluated in 10 days. The injury blow will result in Brooklyn being without their reliable veteran for the remainder of the first-round series.
“He’s been so valuable to us this year with all the injuries we’ve had. He’s been able to play multiple positions, different roles and fill in all the gaps for us. Fortunately, we’re relatively healthy elsewhere, but it’s a loss,” said Steve Nash on Green. “He’s a guy that’s done a lot for us and means a lot to us on and off the court. We just hope he can recover fully and get back out there during these playoffs.”
With Green being ruled out for at least the remainder of the first-round playoff series, he will remain with the team and undergo his rehab on the road. Although suffering the big blow —and another layer of added uncertainty added — Brooklyn hopes their experience with adversity can soothe the loss.
“With him being out, that hurts. It sucks,” said Landry Shamet on losing Green,“but we’ve dealt with adversity and guys being in and out of the lineups all year so luckily we’ve had 72 games to combat that and have that in our utility belt,”
Green has been one of Nash’s favorite options to plug in at the 5, allowing Brooklyn to play small and still produce quality defense. Brooklyn will be without his defensive versatility and his valuable 1-through-5 switching in their defense.
The Nets veteran has split the five minutes with Blake Griffin and Nicolas Claxton in the first two postseason games while Brooklyn has not played DeAndre Jordan in the postseason and the Nets veteran big man hasn’t seen the hardwood in seven of the last eight games.
The Nets head coach said Green’s injury will not result in the team forging any big changes to the rotation. Instead, Claxton — who has played 28 combined minutes in Games 1 and 2 and called his sophomore season — a “roller coaster year,” is gathering his footing and conditioning after testing positive for COVID-19 in April. Moreover, he hasn’t played more than 25 minutes in any game in his two-year career.
“I think there’s still a lot of minutes on the table for Nic Claxton. He’ll probably play more and we’ll go from there,” said Nash on replacing Green’s minutes. “I wouldn’t say we are going to change the rotation off the bat here, but it’s possible. We still have more minutes for Nic.”
While the Nets plan for the Celtics for Game 3 in front of a 25 percent capacity crowd filled with animosity, there’s no plan to let the foot off the gas.
“We recognize there’s an opportunity to relax when you’re up 2-0. We know that Game 3 is a big game. Their crowd will be up for it and it’s a really important game for them to stay in the series. We can’t take our foot off the gas. We got to not only try to win this game for the series, but we also need to get better,” said Nash.
“We need a good performance to grow and continue to improve. This is our team’s third game together really with all our rotation guys playing now, minus Jeff. We recognize there’s a lot at stake for this series but also if we want to continue to improve and put ourselves in a position to be the best we can be, these games mean a lot and we can’t take our foot off the gas.”