Nets facing elimination following Game 3 loss to Celtics: ‘It’s about character now’

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Kyrie Irving looks perplexed Nets Celtics Game 3
Kyrie Irving looks perplexed Nets Celtics Game 3

The Nets had a chance on Saturday night to climb back in their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics on their home floor, but instead, they dug themselves deeper with a 109-103 loss, and are now staring down a sweep.

With his team down 3-0 in the series, Steve Nash knows the Nets need to right the ship, and fast.

“Just character, it’s about our character now,” Nash said. “It’s about digging deep and having pride and finding a way over the next 48 hours to come back ready to win on Monday night.”

The Nets came out of the gates strong on Saturday, but Boston, led by Jayson Tatum’s 39 points, proved to be too much. After Boston built a lead in the second half, they answered back every time the Nets narrowed the gap, pushing their lead as high as 15 points in the final minutes.

“Obviously, nobody’s even remotely happy or content,” said Blake Griffin, who gave the Nets good minutes in his first action of the series (eight points in eight minutes). “We’re all frustrated, but, especially those guys who have played in the playoffs for a long time know that the series is far from over. We get one more game at home and we need to do a good job of coming out ready to play from the beginning.

“Teams like this, you have to put a full 48 [minutes] together. It can’t be 40, it can’t be 44. It has to be a full 48 and I think our energy needs to be good tomorrow and Monday in the shootaround, and then transfer that into the game on Monday night.”

The Nets got strong contributions from role players like Griffin, Bruce Brown and Nic Claxton, but Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the team’s two superstars, combined for just 32 points on 28 shot attempts, not nearly enough for the Nets to come away with the win.

“They’ve both got to be tired. Kyrie’s fasting and Kevin’s had to play 40-plus for five, six weeks after missing six or seven weeks,” said Nash. “We needed him to play 40 minutes or we wouldn’t be in the playoffs. … I’m sure that’s taken a big toll on Kevin, he’s carried a huge burden for us for weeks on end. Kyrie as well since he’s been playing at home and on the road, and fasting, it can’t be easy. … I commend how hard he plays considering and how many minutes they had to endure for us just to be in this position with all the injuries we had this year and all the interruptions, so I feel for those guys.”

The Nets and Celtics take the floor for Game 4 on Monday night in Brooklyn. If the Nets are going to find a way to come back in the series, it will have to begin on Monday.