Caris LeVert returns and a Nets game was supposedly played


Final: 02/08/2019

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The game that was played tonight between the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls was inconsequential to many fans.

The biggest story, by far, was the return of young star Caris LeVert. It had been 85 days since he last suited up for the Nets, missing the previous 42 games due to a dislocated right foot. When LeVert went down, it felt like the heart of the team had been ripped out. Players and fans hoped for his speedy recovery, but even the most optimistic amongst them could not have expected LeVert to return in early February. Yet, that is exactly where we stand. Brooklyn is in the playoff race and LeVert will be running right alongside them.

But tonight — the long-anticipated was not exactly the stuff dreams are made off.

Naturally, the Bulls took control early on. Robin Lopez was a bulldozer in the paint, getting what he wanted when he wanted it, but he wasn’t the only one — ultimately, all of their starters finished in double-digits. The Nets also expectedly regressed from their absolutely bonkers shooting performance against the Denver Nuggets, where they shot over 50 percent from three-point range. This game against the 12-win Bulls was not out of reach though.

In the second quarter, then came the moment that everyone was waiting for.

With 10:39 left in the second quarter, Barclays Center erupted as LeVert rose from the bench to check in. When he scored his first points, they did it again:

Just like pulling out a stuck sliver, you could sense the tension leaving the fanbase as the relief settled. Everything was going to be OK — well, at least in his case. That game against the Bulls would be another story altogether.

The Bulls started the second half on a 5-0 run to put Brooklyn even deeper in the hole. Throughout the whole game, they shot 50 percent from three. The Nets’ defense was woefully inadequate at containing the basement-level Chicago squad. While the offense wasn’t incredible, it could have been enough had the defensive effort been there.

Look, this game was ugly.

It’s frustrating to see the team go from raining threes on the Denver Nuggets to getting run over by the Bulls. There were still many positives to take away from this game, and all things considered, it is one of the most bearable losses of the season. Not because the Nets performed well by any stretch of the imagination, but because the future is bright in Brooklyn.

Before this season, that hadn’t been true for quite some time.

Caris LeVert


The stats: 11 PTS, 5-11 FG, 0-3 3PT, 2 REB, 4 AST, 5 STL, 0 TO

“I’ll never bet against Caris LeVert.” – Sean Marks.

LeVert snatched five steals while playing just 15 minutes, setting a season-high for the squad. If he was 100% when he left then he looks to be at 90% now. It’ll be a bit until full-strength LeVert is back in the saddle — but tremendous games like this will have him back in the starting lineup in no time.

Allen Crabbe


The stats: 19 PTS, 7-12 FG, 5-9 3PT, 1 REB, 1 STL, 0 TO

On this blessed night, we are all Crabbe people.

Allen Crabbe is yet another player on this team who has been bogged down by injuries. While his minutes are still restricted, he has looked more and more like a key contributor on this (hopefully) playoff-bound squad. Those extra games would also be a great stage for him to raise his value as a strong 3-and-D player on an expiring contract this summer.

D'Angelo Russell


The stats: 23 PTS, 8-21 FG, 1-8 3PT, 1 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 3 TO

D’Angelo Russell’s game will be unleashed as the team recovers from injuries.

With more threats to draw attention on the offensive side of the ball, one would not be surprised if Russell’s efficiency continues to increase as well. Dishing the ball to Crabbe and LeVert instead of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Theo Pinson should also cause his numbers to rise. He also appears to be drawing fouls at a higher rate, potentially due to his All-Star bid giving him some street cred amongst the referees.

Joe Harris


The stats: 19 PTS, 7-13 FG, 3-7 3PT, 2 REB, 5 AST, 2 TO

Joe Harris is one beautiful man with a beautiful game to match.

It’s hard to tell if the opponents are distracted by his magnificent beard, but Joey Buckets seems to have an ability to get around his man for open looks at the basket. That is, of course, assuming that he isn’t just pulling up and hitting the three over you at a 45 percent clip.

Shabazz Napier


The stats: 0 PTS, 0-5 FG, 0-3 3PT, 1 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO

Shabazz Napier is slumping hard.

He’s had multiple inefficient performances in a row and his need to have the ball to create offense has hampered the ball movement of the second unit. That should all be alleviated as LeVert’s minutes increase over the next few games, thus allowing Napier to slot back into his optimal role, a spark plug off the bench.