Mikal Bridges could only clap his hands and drop his head after a late three-point attempt resulted in an air ball.
Game 4 wasn’t the performance he or the Nets expected. His first playoff series as a team’s No. 1 scoring option ended with him shooting 6-for-18 in the Nets’ season-ending 96-88 loss to the 76ers at Barclays Center on Saturday.
After three consecutive playoff games with at least 20 points, Bridges finished with 17 points and disappointment in his play. “I feel like these past games, I’ve been letting my team down. I hate not trying to win a game for them,” he said. “It hurts me as I’m just trying, but it’s part of it. Just own up to it and realize all you can do is just get better.”
Fatigue likely played a role as Bridges played in an NBA-best 83 games and led the league in minutes played. The 76ers also frequently double-teamed him and wore him down by being physical.
It seemed to have an effect as Bridges shot 2-for-8 through three quarters. He also spent significant effort defending James Harden the past three games.
Yet Bridges’ poor scoring output doesn’t overshadow how well he’s played since his trade to the Nets, and coach Jacque Vaughn praised him.
“Great learning experience that we can’t replicate unless he got through it,” Vaughn said of Bridges’ series. “He’s going to grow from it and he’s going to be a better player from it.”
It provided little solace to Bridges. He took responsibility after the game and vowed to use it as fuel to get in better shape in the offseason, knowing more will be expected of him next season.
“I love my guys to death and I told them, that’s on me, I’m sorry I couldn’t come through and just win some games,” Bridges said. “I just wanted to make some shots, but I promised them I’ll be better next time.”