“During the course of the game? Maybe occasionally on a play here or there, but for the most part I’m sort of thinking about other things,’’ Blake Griffin said Tuesday after practice.
He did it.
Standing around and watching the Nets’ Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving in action can be mesmerizing, even for those accustomed to tantalizing exploits. For more than a decade, Griffin was the one getting stared at, dunking and leaping and throwing his massive body around, averaging more than 20 points a game in nine different seasons as a six-time NBA All-Star.
Nowadays, though, Griffin is much like so many others. Sure, he started at center for the Nets in their 104-93 victory over the Celtics in Game 1 of their playoff series. Griffin did not do a whole lot of anything on the court and in his brief time with the Nets has quickly identified the lay of the land.
“A lot of times watching film or seeing highlights you do see that and you do notice the luxury that we do have with those three guys,’’ Griffin said. “But there’s not a lot of time to stop in the middle of a game and have those thoughts.”
If Durant, Harden and Irving remain healthy and engaged, the Nets will be tough to stop. How much scoring and offense they need from others, well, that remains to be seen. The Big 3 scored 82 of the 104 points in the series opener. At times, it was as basic as this: Get the ball to one of them and get out of the way.
The Big 3 played only eight games (202 minutes) together in the regular season, so there is little in the way of precedent. Is this what the Nets are and what they want to be?
“I think that’s something that we have the luxury of having those guys that are so difficult to defend in iso situations,’’ first-year coach Steve Nash said. “But that’s not necessarily the way we want to go. We were probably more iso-heavy the first game because it’s all so new … and Boston switched a lot of stuff. I think that pushed us toward more isos.
“But it will be interesting to see, it’s just all so new that we, like I don’t know, if that’s going to be something that we dominate the direction we go in or if we’re going to be able to get away from that more so and run more action. We got to figure this out as we go so it’s hard to answer that question. The luxury is they all are incredible isolation players and it’s not the worst thing in the world, but I would like us to get more to where we’re playing off one another.’’
Griffin in 19:57 did not attempt a shot from the floor, scored one point and had three rebounds, four assists and two steals. He said it was less a case of deferring to the Big 3 as it was identifying “some matchups that we liked and we went to that.’’ In Game 2 Tuesday night at Barclays Center, and beyond, it is difficult to see the Nets ever seeing matchups they prefer to the ones involving Durant, Harden or Irving against almost any defender.
Jeff Green, a smaller but more versatile option at center, attempted only four shots and scored three points in his 26:32 minutes. He referred to those outside the Big 3 as “the others, you could say’’ and anticipated getting more action on offense as the series and playoffs move ahead.
“We’re going to get shots,’’ Green said. “All the focus is going to those three, and we’ve just got to stay ready and be ready to shoot.’’
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