The Brooklyn Nets dropped Game 3 in the team’s Eastern Conference semifinals showdown with the Milwaukee Bucks, but Kyrie Irving refused to lay the blame on the 86-83 setback solely on Bruce Brown, whose play in the waning moments of the game is under scrutiny.
Brown took two of the Nets’ final shots in Thursday night’s loss at Fiserv Forum, and many are blaming him for inexplicably not finding either Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant for a potential game-winning shot.
With the Nets up 83-82 and 20 seconds remaining in the game, Brown could not convert on a floater in the lane. Jrue Holiday scored on the Bucks’ ensuing possession, and with the Nets attempting to regain the lead, Brown picked up a loose ball and failed to make a desperation layup. Milwaukee held on to ultimately win the game to avoid going down 3-0 in the series.
The blame game immediately began on social media, with widespread wisecracks and mockery coming at Brown’s expense. Kyrie Irving, however, unsurprisingly declined to call out Brown during his postgame presser.
"Game 4 should be special."— YES Network (@YESNetwork) June 11, 2021
Kyrie Irving shares his thoughts on Game 3 in Milwaukee and how close his Nets team came to seizing a 3-0 series lead. pic.twitter.com/CuPwmLh71A
“Usually, Bruce puts us in a great position to at least have something at the rim that goes in, but tonight it just didn’t go for us,” Irving said, per HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. “It’s not on him. It’s not on any one person. Just got to execute.”
Nets head coach Steve Nash similarly came to Brown’s defense during his postgame comments.
Steve Nash discusses Bruce Brown's shot attempts in the final moments of Game 3. pic.twitter.com/2lgcGutvj5— YES Network (@YESNetwork) June 11, 2021
Brown of course was also pressed on the way the end of Game 3 played out after the loss.
Bruce Brown recaps Game 3: "They made one more shot than we did. We'll be ready for Sunday." pic.twitter.com/SIIIxBsOrY— YES Network (@YESNetwork) June 11, 2021
“We had great looks,” Brown said after the game. “We just didn’t make them tonight.”
It certainly merits noting that without Brown’s play earlier in a game where he put up 16 points, 11 rebounds and three assists that the Nets would not have stormed back from a 21-point deficit in the first quarter. Sure, the late-game plays are certainly noteworthy, but as both Irving and Nash noted, the loss does not fall entirely on Brown’s shoulders.
The Nets will look to recover from the loss and take a commanding 3-1 series lead Sunday. Game 4 tips off at Fiserv Forum Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET