- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko said he was “a little bit surprised” that he did not play in Game 1 on Saturday. But Kirilenko, who reiterated that he is healthy, was understanding of coach Jason Kidd’s decision to sit him.
“I was a little bit surprised. But to be honest, when I watched the game everybody played so well,” Kirilenko told ESPNNewYork.com on Sunday. “I didn’t even see a position for me to fill-in because Terrence Ross obviously got two quick fouls, [DeMar] DeRozan didn’t have a great game and they played a small lineup with Kyle Lowry, [Greivis] Vasquez and even [Nando] de Colo at three and two big guys, so [there] wasn’t really a place for me on the floor, to be honest.”
Kirilenko, who missed 37 games due to various injuries, closed out the regular season by playing between 24-28 minutes in the last five games. Many believed he was going to be one of the team’s main X-factors in the playoffs because of his ability to guard multiple positions.
Lowry and Ross combined to shoot 4-for-17 from the field. Alan Anderson was the surprising recipient of 19 minutes and played quite well, scoring six points.
“We have so much experience and so much depth on the team,” Kirilenko said. “So once in a while, you just can’t find the time for everybody. Coach, I think, made the right decision. I want to play, but it’s all right.”
Said Nets coach Jason Kidd: “It wasn’t predetermined. It was the flow. I went with Alan right off the bench, it’s just feel and that’s the reason why.”
Kidd added that it wasn’t about matchups.
“I have a deep team ... and it’s about winning the game. AK didn’t get in. That doesn’t mean that he’s not going to play any of this series,” Kidd said. “That’s just one game. We got the win, now we move on. Every game is going to be different.”
Kirilenko’s wife, Masha Lopatova, did not appear to be too happy that her husband was not playing. She posted an Instagram photo of Kirilenko sitting on the bench accompanied by the comment “ ... And you are Kidding like Jason ...”
That could be a reference to a lyric in the song “Hot in Herre” by Nelly, where the rapper says, “I’m just kiddin’ like Jason.”
She later wrote to fans: “I don’t want to say anything bad, but just think about 350 million Russian fans back in Russia cheering for the one Russian player in the playoffs (not to mention Russian community and Russian ownership) that hurts!!!”
Asked about his wife’s comments, Kirilenko said, “She wanted me to play. I spoke with her, and she said she was surprised but she’s a fan.”
5dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann