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Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.

Andrei Kirilenko puts defense first in playoffs

Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko looks on against the

Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko looks on against the Detroit Pistons in the second half of an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Friday, April 4, 2014. (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

Andrei Kirilenko did not play at all in Game 1 of the Nets' playoff series against the Raptors - to the surprise of many who follow the team - then played nearly 20 minutes in Game 2, finishing with four points, three rebounds, an assist and a whopping four steals in a clinic on contributing the little things, including defense.

Before the team's pre-Game 3 shootaround Friday morning, he said that in the playoffs, defense always is the priority.

"From my perspective I think it’s very important when you start the game you start from the defensive side, especially in the playoffs, because obviously defensive intensity comes first when you are playing in the playoffs," he said. "Everybody is trying to play hard and not let other guys go to the basket freely, so it’s very important to start on the defense, and that’s what I tried to do.’’

Kirilenko's wife, Masha, complained about his Game 1 DNP on her Instagram account, but Andrei has refused to do so publicly.

"As I said, we are professional players," he said. "We have to be in a position to prepare ourselves to play 48 minutes, one minute or don’t play. This is our job. What I’m trying to do because we have so many experienced players, so much depth on the team, you never know which position or how many minutes you’re going to play in the game.

"This is up to the coach to decide how many minutes you’re going to play. We have to prepare ourselves for whatever we have and play as hard as possible.’’

Kirilenko said he is looking forward to experiencing the Barclays Center playoff atmosphere Friday night.

"I had a great experience playing 10 years in Utah," he said. "It was packed, it was unbelievably loud, so I hope the expectation is going to be on that level – cheering, screaming and supporting Brooklyn.’’
 

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