Steve Nash sums up Nets' mood entering Game 7 vs. Bucks with Kyrie Irving out, James Harden hobbled: 'We're still here'

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Kevin Durant Steve Nash 5/28 cropped
Kevin Durant Steve Nash 5/28 cropped

After a 104-89 road loss Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Nets head home for a season-defining Game 7. The Nets missed a chance to close out a back-and-forth Eastern Conference semifinal matchup, and now the 2020-21 campaign hinges on Saturday's 8:30 p.m. tip-off at Barclays Center in New York.

Despite a third straight game without Kyrie Irving (right ankle sprain) and James Harden (right hamstring tightness) available but still hobbled, first-year head coach Steve Nash sees his team embracing the circumstances.

"We've gone through so much this year," he said Friday. "It's like -- this is not the way we envisioned our playoff run, losing Kai, losing James, being in the position he's in, Jeff Green (left plantar fascia strain) being in the position he's in. So we just look at this as a great opportunity. We're still here. We're still alive, given everything that's happened to us. So we feel it more, in a sense, that we've done an incredible job to get here and give ourselves a chance at home to win a Game 7."

Although he returned for Games 5 and 6, Harden has not been himself, giving the Nets valiant minutes on a 42.8 average but scoring 10.5 points on 31.6% shooting while adding 7.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds. As SNY's Ian Begley inquired, Harden's lack of explosiveness playing through the injury has come at a price.

"There's clear opportunities where he put the breaks on and had to manage himself and protect himself," Nash said when asked by Begley about Harden's fast-breaking ability of lack thereof. "So that is definitely a part of this puzzle for us is that James is not at 100%. So he's got to protect himself and that's going to limit some of our options, some of the things we do well.

"James is so talented, he can do so many things on the basketball court, but that is one area that he's not going to be able to do -- he's not going to be able to push the ball in transition."

For the series, Kevin Durant has been a constant, averaging 33.3 points on 50.3% shooting with 10.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 41.0 minutes. The stage is set for a Durant grand finale, but Nash knows the Nets ultimately need more from a supporting cast that includes struggling sharpshooter Joe Harris and big man Blake Griffin to mainly combat a Bucks duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo (30) and Khris Middleton (38) coming off 68 combined points in Game 6.

"We can make adjustments," Nash said. "We definitely can improve on the things we did. And we were able to do it in Game 5. So there are solutions we made, there are adjustments we can have. And as much as anything, sometimes it comes down to shot-making. Especially early yesterday, we had a lot of good looks that didn't go in and that hurt us. We were also very careless with the ball and made errors that led to transition opportunities.

"But this is what it is. This is the deck we have. We're going to solve as many puzzles as we can. We're also going to try to play our hearts out and enjoy the opportunity, and as we have all year -- we've found ways to persevere and to give ourselves an opportunity when it didn't look good. And for us, inside our group, we feel great. We feel excited for the opportunity. We feel a lot of belief and trust, and excited to go out there and play in front of our fans in the deciding game."