The Brooklyn Nets’ 2019-20 season is officially over–305 days after it began.
A 150-122 loss in Game 4 to Toronto marks the Nets’ last game in the bubble as the Raptors take the series sweep. Toronto’s depth was again on display as the team was forced to adjust after Kyle Lowry exited with an ankle injury.
There is no way around it: The Raptors are a great team, and the Nets’ bubble roster was simply outmatched. Game 2 was Brooklyn’s best chance to steal a game, with a late-game turnover proving costly, but a series sweep was largely expected with the number of adjustments the Nets had to face in the bubble.
The Nets have nothing to be ashamed of with their bubble performance, as they exceeded expectations with a 5-3 record in the seeding games–including victories over the Bucks, Clippers and pushing the Trail Blazers to the brink. Brooklyn earned their No. 7 seed, but the reigning champion Raptors had the weapons needed to take the series sweep.
Game 4 saw the Nets compete early, but they ultimately fell apart in the second half. The Raptors out-scored Brooklyn 39-19 in the third quarter to take as large as a 33-point lead, powered by 55.4% shooting.
The high-scoring game by Toronto was another example of Brooklyn’s defensive struggles in the series. The Raptors scored 100 bench points–yes, 100!–showcasing the team’s depth, something the Nets could not counter. Brooklyn also fell short in the rebounding battle once again, with the Raptors recording the 57-44 edge on the boards.
Caris LeVert led the way for the Nets throughout the season restart and finished Game 4 with a playoff-career-high 35 points, along with six rebounds and six assists. Brooklyn’s bench, which played much of the fourth quarter, finished with a total of 45 points while the team shot 39.8% overall.
With the 2019-20 season in the rearview mirror, the Nets can finally look forward. The team will likely look much different than it did in Orlando, with Kevin Durant expected to make his debut and Kyrie Irving healthy. Questions remain as to which reinforcements will be added, and whether Joe Harris will be re-signed.
In addition, a big question is left to be answered: Who will be the head coach? Jacque Vaughn showed he can make intelligent choices and connect with the team in his short stint to end the season, but it remains to be seen if he will keep the job.
The Nets have the No. 19 pick in the 2020 draft, which is the next thing to look forward to among the offseason storylines.
Brooklyn’s ultimate goal was never too reliant on the 2019-20 season, but the team still impressed with a playoff appearance in the face of injuries, player turnover and a coaching change. The anticipation now begins ahead of a year where the expectations will be real for the Nets.
As always, thanks to the crew at YES Network for another fun season!
Now the wait for 2020-21 begins.
The stats: 35 PTS, 11-23 FG, 6-9 3FG, 7-10 FT, 6 REB, 6 AST, 3 TO, 2 STL, 31 MIN
Caris LeVert was expected to step up in the absence of Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie, and that he did.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 24, 2020
LeVert proved that he is a star in the NBA, and is capable of being the Nets’ third star behind Irving and Kevin Durant. He continued to surpass personal records throughout the bubble, making breakthroughs with his play-making and his scoring.
It was fun to watch LeVert blossom in the bubble, but it will be more fun to see how he performs in his role going forward. Having LeVert as an alternate playmaker will be a key weapon for the Nets, especially if he can will his team as he did in Orlando.
The stats: 13 PTS, 5-13 FG, 3-8 3FG, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 TO, 29 MIN
Tyler Johnson’s long-awaited tenure as a Net came to fruition in the bubble, and he was often the foundation of Brooklyn’s bench efforts.
While Johnson’s contributions were not always consistent, he came up big with his shooting off the bench during the series. His three-point shot was a big positive, and it was good to see him step into the starting lineup in Joe Harris’ absence.
Johnson will be a free agent heading into the offseason, so it is yet to be seen if he will return to Brooklyn. But he stepped up for the Nets in the bubble, and that may be attractive enough for him to return to the roster.
The stats: 8 PTS, 3-5 FG, 2-2 FT, 15 REB, 1 TO, 2 BLK, 25 MIN
Jarrett Allen played reduced minutes in Game 4 and again was not involved much offensively.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 23, 2020
After a four-point performance in Game 3, Allen nearly reached his usual double-double plateau in Game 4. Instead, he recorded his third straight game with at least 15 rebounds–which is impressive in itself.
Allen showed flashes of how he can perform as a starting center, with games of both domination and struggle. The Fro dealt with Brooklyn’s lack of size well overall in the bubble, though the Raptors provided a difficult matchup defensively.
Allen took steps up in every category this season, which is more than the Nets could ask for–including a franchise-record 64.9% shooting percentage. Allen looked good offensively and defensively and has shown he is one of Brooklyn’s most reliable players, with more growth to come in the future.
The stats: 11 PTS, 2-12 FG, 2-9 3FG, 5-5 FT, 3 REB, 1 AST, 4 TO, 2 STL, 27 MIN
TLC had another game in which he struggled from three, going 2-of-9 from distance.
While he did not finish with strong shooting performances, TLC was one of Brooklyn’s most consistent bubble contributors. He emerged as one of the surprise players in the bubble with his shooting off the bench.
TLC has a non-guaranteed option for 2020-21, and it will be interesting to see if he has played his way into next season’s regular rotation.
The stats: 10 PTS, 4-9 FG, 2-6 3FG, 0-1 FT, 2 AST, 1 TO, 1 BLK, 32 MIN
Garrett Temple is another player that is a question mark for next season. His performance in the bubble included both highs and lows, with a bit left to be desired at times.
Temple’s contract for the 2020-21 season includes a team option, so it will be up to Sean Marks whether GT returns to the Nets for another season. The 34-year-old averaged 10.3 points on 37.8% shooting over the past season.
Whether that was enough will show itself in due time.