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Clifford: Steve Nash not to blame for last year’s disappointment

Brooklyn Nets v Orlando Magic Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Steve Clifford, who was a consultant to Steve Nash last year — and is not back coaching with the Hornets, told media Wednesday night that he does not believe the Nets disappointing season and first round collapse was his former boss’s fault.

“This is where coaches take heat for things that are not their fault. The number one problem last year in Brooklyn was games missed. That’s it,” Clifford said before his Hornets lost 134-131 in overtime to the Knicks on Wednesday night at the Garden. “I didn’t go to every game, but I watched every game.”

Clifford is a veteran coach. This is his ninth year as an NBA head coach and he was both an assistant and head coach in the NCAA as well. He spent one year as a Nets consultant.

He told media at the Knicks-Hornets game that the big issue for the Nets last season was the loss of so many players throughout the season whether it was Kyrie Irving missing games because of the city’s vaccine mandate, Kevin Durant missing six weeks with a sprained MCL or Joe Harris going down for most of the season because of a severe ankle sprain or Ben Simmons suffering back pain that led to post-season surgery.

“I believe last year, look at the record when Kevin played. I believe in the games Kevin played last year we were fourth in offense, 12th in defense,” Clifford said before Nash’s Nets fell 110-99 to the Bucks. “Kyrie didn’t play for different reasons. If Kevin never gets hurt we’re like second or third, [we have] home-court [advantage], we’re not playing Boston in the first round and it’s a totally different season. You can always get into all these other things. The number one thing by far, games missed, that’s it.”

Or as Goran Dragic said, summing things up near the end of the season, ”Every day there was something different, something difficult.”