Mannix: Ime Udoka ‘dominating' Steve Nash in coaching matchup


The biggest mismatch so far in the Boston Celtics-Brooklyn Nets first-round playoff series has been on the sidelines.

Through two games, Ime Udoka has outcoached Steve Nash to lead the C's to a 2-0 series lead. Udoka's defensive-minded Celtics squad has forced Nets star Kevin Durant to have two of the worst postseason performances of his illustrious NBA career. It also quieted Kyrie Irving in Game 2 (10 points, 4-13 FG) to help spark a 114-107 comeback victory.

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Chris Mannix believes the glaring coaching disparity has been the biggest difference-maker in the series so far.

"The biggest advantage the Celtics have, to me, is that Ime Udoka is just dominating this coaching matchup," Mannix said Thursday on Early Edition. "Steve Nash, he has been bad in this series. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are superlative offensive talent, but they are getting no help from the sideline.

"The offensive play-calling for Brooklyn has been horrible. It has been effectively, 'Let's throw the ball to KD and Kyrie, watch them get muscled by the Celtics' physical players, and just hope that their talent will take them to another level. Honestly, the Celtics' biggest advantage right now is the fact that Ime Udoka is an asset to his team and Steve Nash has not been."

If Nash and the Nets hope to make this a competitive series, Mannix says it's time for them to make some serious adjustments offensively to combat Boston's stifling D.

"There are just no adjustments being made on the Nets' side of the floor," Mannix added. "I mean, they're coming out of timeouts and they're not running anything. I have zero basketball mind when it comes to play-calling, but I can tell you that maybe you should try running Kevin Durant off screens so he's not wrestling with Jayson Tatum, Grant Williams and Al Horford all the time. I know enough to say why don't you run a Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving pick and roll, which I would think would be lethal. What do you do in that situation? You have two players that can score from all three levels. They're not doing any of that, nothing, and that is a major factor in this series.

"I don't think Durant would be struggling at the rate he's been struggling if every single offensive possession he wasn't just being handed the ball and told to make a play. Yes, he's a great isolation player. You go back to his days though with Golden State, he was part of a system and he was highly successful in part because he was in that system."

If it's more of the same in Saturday night's pivotal Game 3 in Brooklyn, Mannix thinks Nash's coaching job could be on the line.

"Steve Nash, this is the biggest game -- this Game 3 -- of Steve Nash's coaching career," he said. "If he doesn't come up with something new, there's gonna be a lot of pressure on the Nets to maybe make a change."

C's-Nets Game 3 is set for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at Barclays Center. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. right here on NBC Sports Boston with Pregame Live.

Note: Games 3-6 of the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series will be aired on NBC Sports Boston and can also be streamed on or with the MyTeams App, which you can download below.

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