Brooklyn’s optimal rotation didn’t play once in the regular-season. It’s now lasted just two games in the postseason, with the loss of Jeff Green.
The veteran big man has suffered a strained plantar fascia, a major loss for the Nets considering his leadership, floor-spacing and defensive versatility. He’ll miss the rest of the first-round playoff series vs. Boston – with the Nets taking a 2-0 lead into Friday’s Game 3 at TD Garden – and won’t be reevaluated for 10 days.
“He will travel with us and do his rehab,” said Steve Nash. “He has been so valuable to us this year with all the injuries we’ve had. He’s been able to play multiple positions, different roles and fill in all the gaps for us.
“And fortunately, we’re relatively healthy elsewhere. But it is a loss. He is a guy that has done a lot for us and means a lot to us on and off the court and we just hope that he can recover fully and get back out there in these playoffs.”
Green averaged 11 points and 3.9 rebounds this season, shooting 49.2 percent and a career-high 41.2 percent from deep. His ability to switch 1-through-5 has been key, allowing the Nets to move away from drop coverage and play a more disruptive style.
In the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Game 1 win, Green was a plus-10 and helped slow Jayson Tatum. He had six points and was a plus-8 in just a dozen minutes in Game 2 before being forced out with what the team had called a bruised left foot.
While Blake Griffin has started both playoff tilts vs. Boston, highly switchable second-year pro Nic Claxton will inherit much of Green’s playing time.
“I think there’s still a lot of minutes on the table for Nic Claxton, so he’ll probably play more and we’ll go from there immediately,” Nash said. “So I wouldn’t say we’re going to change the rotation off the bat here, but it’s possible. But we still, I think, have more minutes for Nic.”
Injuries and absences forced the Nets to start a team-record 38 different lineups this regular season, and never use their preferred quintet until the playoffs. They just lost a piece of their nine-man rotation, at least for awhile. It would benefit them if sixth-seeded Miami – which trails 2-0 in its first-round series – could extend its matchup vs. No. 3 Milwaukee.
“With Jeff, obviously him being out that hurts, sucks,” guard Landry Shamet said. “But we’ve dealt with adversity and guys being in and out of the lineup all year. So luckily we’ve had 72 games to kind of combat that and have that in our utility belt.”