When the Nets’ season ends at some point, one of the many decisions that Steve Nash will be extensively analyzed over is going to be how he utilized his rotation. More specifically his decision on how he used Blake Griffin during the playoffs.
Despite being available for the first two games of the series, Griffin watched from the bench as the Nets fell behind 0-2 before returning to Brooklyn for Saturday’s Game 3. It seemed that the NBA vet would watch from the bench yet again, that was until Nash decided to dig deep to try and spark his club and with 1:27 left in the third quarter Griffin checked into a game for the first time since April 2 to thunderous applause.
While the Nets still fell in Game 3 and trail the series 0-3 with their season on the line, Griffin was the jump that Brooklyn so desperately needed at that point in the game. His impact was felt almost immediately after checking in as he helped to set up the play that allowed Patty Mills to hit a corner three and pull the Nets within three points.
In the fourth, He hit back-to-back threes in response to buckets from Jaylen Brown.
“I thought he played his ass off,” Nash said of Griffin’s effort. “He really hustled and worked and made a couple of threes, and gave us a lift. We needed a lift and some energy and some life and a little bit of belief.”
Griffin’s role with the Nets this season has always been a topic of conversation and derision for Nets fans, who felt he could have been utilized better. By all accounts, until Brooklyn felt things taking a turn in the third, Griffin wasn’t going to play in Game 3.
In the end, he was, as Nash said, the lift the Nets needed and scored eight points in eight minutes of work off the bench.
“I’ve tried to stay ready at every moment,” Griffin said. “Most of the time it looks like you’re not going to play, you’re normally right. But they told me, and I was ready. But that’s just part of my job. It’s all of our jobs to stay ready. But it was great to be out there.”
Griffin hasn’t been the only vet that has not seen any action during the postseason. LaMarcus Aldridge has yet to play for the Nets this series as well, with Nash opting to stick with Andre Drummond and Nic Claxton.