PHILADELPHIA – Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes it actually takes four years, which can work like one and a half careers in a sports world dominated by instant gratification. Sometimes there is a real value for waiting, for patience, for talent creation and for the growth of trust.
Sometimes you get D & # 39; Angelo Russell right in front of your eyes.
"We know how good he is," says Nets coach Kenny Atkinson. "It's fun to watch right now."
It was fun to see Saturday safely. It was not that Russell was the only reason the nets jumped the Sixers in the first game of these Eastern Conference quarterfinal games. Only a few profits are as important as this, thanks to one hand. Caris LeVert was great. Ed Davis stepped out of the bench with 12 points and 16 rebounds and was an alien plus-28 for his 25 minutes down the hall.
Despite so many people leading such a stable, balanced attack, it was impossible to avert Russell's eyes, who controlled the flow of the game so much, who was the best player on the ground and played with perseverance this 26-point attempt was his very first appearance in an NBA playoff game, was rejected by him.
Above all, he looked as if he belonged from the beginning, as if this was a moment and a place where he was born.
"I trust our offense," Russell said at the end of the game. "We have great minds behind it. The coach set us up with a routine and recipe for the crime earlier this season, and it's been going on since then. We have the right parts to go on. They have people like Caris and Spencer [Dinwiddie] That it's hard to stay in front of these guys, then add Joe Harris and other guards and to take advantage of it, it's fun to be a part of it. "
He is more than a part of it. He is the piece of the puzzle that buzzes everything. He is the other half of Atkinson's brain, bringing life to the coach's insulting philosophies. Back in the state of Ohio, it was always clear that Russell had the talent for the job of having the game to make it all possible. He had two years of insights with the Lakers and last year with the Nets.
Now he shows everything. There are many indispensable elements in the nets, many reasons why it is so much better than the sum of the parts. Take Russell out of the mix, and that's a whole different team. A much more ordinary team. The other networks have faith in him.
But it's clear proof of how much self-confidence he has in himself, making Russell such a fun player. And makes the nets a funny team.
Unless you are a Sixers fan.
It's no coincidence that night when the nets rescued their season, it was Russell who saved the nets. They had started their critical Western swing 0: 3 and left the kings in Sacramento 103-78 behind when they entered the fourth quarter. They were under .500 in the season 12 minutes after plunging and suddenly the playoffs were in danger.
Then Russell scored 27 points in the fourth quarter, 16 points directly, finished 44 points and the Nets won 123-121, and Jared Dudley said to his teammate, "D & Lo went all the way to Kobe."
The nets do not need him as Kobe. Are you the D & # 39; Lo you've seen this season? That's plenty You've already stolen a home court. Now they want to break the spirit of the Sixers.
"If you have a player like Jimmy [Butler] and Joel [Embiid] over there, those caliber players, you can never count them, "Russell said. "It's our job to stop over and over again, build a defensive mentality into the game, and click on our offense clicks, so we're not really worried about our offense."
And as long as Russell plays like that? There is not much else to worry about.