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Caris LeVert

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant reacts after making a basket against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant reacts after making a basket against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)

Entering the summer of 2019, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks has every reason to say "checkmate" to those who doubted his vision for the organization when he took over in 2016. He refused to skip steps or make a splash move to accelerate the rebuild. He was going for "singles" and "doubles" as opposed to swinging for the fences when he didn't have enough juice to hit one.

But now, following a playoff tussle in Year Three of the rebuild, Marks has put himself in a position where free agents might approach the Kiwi GM with their own way of saying, "Check, mate?"

Several league sources have told SNY that top-tier free agents, including Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Tobias Harris, will at least consider Brooklyn this upcoming July when it's time to find their next home - if they decide to leave.

Tags: Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll
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Feb 13, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) celebrates with forward Joe Harris (12) snf forward DeMarre Carroll (9) in the third overtime against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)
Feb 13, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) celebrates with forward Joe Harris (12) snf forward DeMarre Carroll (9) in the third overtime against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports (David Richard)

Coming off of a 28-win campaign last season, the Brooklyn Nets had low expectations. The steady development of young players in Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen seemed more important than wins.

The season seemed to head that way on Dec. 5. After a game-winning three pointer by Oklahoma City's Paul George knocked off Brooklyn, the Nets fell to 8-18. Mired in an eight-game losing streak, Brooklyn found themselves with the fourth worst record in the East - behind the New York Knicks.

But Brooklyn instantly turned their season around, winning nine of their next 10 games. From that point, the Nets were one of the better teams in the East, ending up with a 34-22 record in their final 56 games. Even with LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie out for lengthy periods with injury, the Nets finished sixth in the East with a 42-40 record.

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts after making a three point shot against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Sean Marks spoke to reporters at his summer press conference where he tempered expectations but coined a phrase that would stick throughout the season.

"We have [this] year to prepare for summer of 2019."

The conference was Marks extolling expectations for the season in an optimistic way. Everybody knew the Nets could potentially clear enough cap space for two max players -- depending on the moves they make. But nobody expected the team to make the playoffs this season. 

Something the Knicks can't say.

Tags: Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Apr 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) shoots over Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)
Apr 23, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) shoots over Brooklyn Nets forward Jared Dudley (6) during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports (Eric Hartline)

The Nets couldn't mount a comeback in this First Round series, as the 76ers blew them out off in Philadelphia, 122-100, in Game 5 on Tuesday night. >> Box score

Seven things to know about Tuesday's game...

1) Joel Embiid was once again the Sixers' leading scorer and he only saw 20 minutes of work in the game. He had 23 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double, and collected two assists and one steal as well. He was 9-for-18 shooting as he continued to stay efficient.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Scott Thompson
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Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) loses the ball against Philadelphia 76ers defender during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 20, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen (31) loses the ball against Philadelphia 76ers defender during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Joel Embiid's left knee will be a question for the Philadelphia 76ers for the duration of their playoff run, but when he is on the floor, things go extremely well.

Embiid's presence is among the reasons why the 76ers are on the verge of advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals. And they have a shot to do just that Tuesday night when they host the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their first-round series.

Philadelphia is attempting to reach the semifinals in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1999-2001 during the peak years of coach Larry Brown and Allen Iverson, a stretch that culminated in getting to the NBA Finals in 2001.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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76ers fight past Nets in Game 4 00:01:59
In a heated affair, the 76ers got 31 points from Joel Embiid and took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Nets with a 112-108 victory

Tensions were high in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon, but the heat of the moment didn't work in the home team's favor. The Nets were up for most of the second half, but they couldn't close out the 76ers in a 112-108 loss in Game 4 of this First Round matchup. >> Box score

Five things to know about Saturday's game...

1) There was a point in the second half when the Nets were leading for 23 straight minutes. However, the Sixers eventually took the lead with a Joel Embiid layup with 2:54 remaining. From there, the Nets and 76ers traded buckets with D'Angelo Russell draining a three with 1:26 remaining to regain the lead. But Mike Scott hit the eventual game-winner, a dagger three in the corner. On the ensuing possession, Russell found Jarrett Allen on the pick-and-roll, and he would've had a clear lane to the rim if he caught the pass cleanly. Instead, the ball was fumbled and Allen was swarmed by Sixers, who took it away. 

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell
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76ers overpower Nets 00:02:07
Playing without Joel Embiid, the 76ers got a combined 86 points from Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and J.J. Redick to take a 2-1 series lead

Even though the 76ers didn't have Joel Embiid for Game 3 because of a left knee injury, the Nets couldn't keep pace with the 76ers in a 131-115 Game 3 loss in Brooklyn Thursday night. The Nets now trail the first-round series, 2-1. >> Box score

Five things to know about Thursday's game

1) After trailing by six at halftime, the 76ers opened up an 18-point lead in the third quarter before the Nets closed the third on a 14-3 run. They got to within six in the fourth but the Sixers took control down the stretch.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell
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Sixers rout Nets, tie series 00:01:31
The 76ers responded to their Game 1 loss with by blowing out the Nets, 145-123, to even their series at 1-1

The Nets allowed 51 points in the third quarter en route to a 145-123 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Monday at Wells Fargo Center. >> Box score

Five things to know about Monday's game

1) Despite trailing 65-64 at halftime, the 76ers started the third on a 21-2 run capped by a Ben Simmons basket that put Philadelphia up 86-66. Overall, the 76ers outscored Brooklyn 51-23, scoring the most points in a quarter in NBA playoff history.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)
Apr 13, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts to a score against the Philadelphia 76ers during the third quarter in game one of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports (Bill Streicher)

Back in the postseason for the first time since 2015, the Brooklyn Nets defended well, produced plenty of offense and flustered the Philadelphia 76ers at times in Game 1.

On Monday night in Philadelphia, the sixth-seeded Nets look to follow up a strong performance while the third-seeded Sixers hope to bounce back and level the Eastern Conference first-round series.

A Nets win would mark the first time they went up 2-0 in a series since sweeping the New York Knicks in the opening round of the 2004 postseason.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell
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Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert drives to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers guard Shake Milton during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert drives to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers guard Shake Milton during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)

Kenny Atkinson walked out of a quiet locker room and into a small press conference area with a handful of reporters. Brooklyn's head coach was in near tears having witnessed a gruesome right foot injury to his 24-year-old rising star and development poster boy, Caris LeVert. He did the best he could to answer questions, but they weren't really answers.

No timetables. No clue what was going to happen next for a kid who already endured three surgeries.

But then he finished with a powerful statement, a true testament showing how much he believes in his young prodigy.

"I just know Caris," he said, "like if anybody's coming back from this [it's him]. Knowing the human, the character, the person, the player … he'll come back from this."

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Nets take Game 1 from Sixers 00:02:06
Head coach Kenny Atkinson saw his Nets bench outscore the 76ers bench 59-26, as Brooklyn took the opener of their playoff series, 111-102.

The Nets took control late in the first quarter and held the lead the rest of the way, causing the boo-birds to rain down in Philly as Brooklyn upset the 76ers on Saturday, 111-102, to take Game 1. >> Box score

Five things to know about Saturday's game

1) Brooklyn used an incredible 20-1 run to take a 39-23 lead in the second quarter. After trailing by three, the Nets closed the first quarter on a 12-0 run over the final 2:30. The Sixers would get to within two in the third quarter, but that's as close as they'd get.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Apr 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Apr 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)

As the Brooklyn Nets made their playoff drive, they knew the degree of difficulty they would face with their schedule in the last few weeks, especially with the final weekend.

After getting a dramatic win over the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, the Nets conclude a critical back-to-back set Sunday when they visit the Indiana Pacers, who will likely be the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

"It says a lot about the team and the organization," Nets forward DeMarre Carroll said. "We just keep fighting and fighting. We don't want to stop here. We want to try to go to Indiana and pick up another one."

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll
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Apr 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) dribbles the ball around Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (3) during the first half at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports  (Kamil Krzaczynski)
Apr 6, 2019; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) dribbles the ball around Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (3) during the first half at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports (Kamil Krzaczynski)

MILWAUKEE (AP) D'Angelo Russell had 25 points and 10 assists, and the Brooklyn Nets beat the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks 133-128 on Saturday to improve their positioning in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Brooklyn (40-40) made 19 3-pointers and placed eight players in double figures. Caris LeVert had 24 points, and Jared Dudley finished with 16.

The Nets, who had dropped four of five, moved into sixth place in the East. Orlando also is 40-40, and Detroit is a half-game back with a 39-40 record.

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Milwaukee Bucks
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Apr 3, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) grabs a rebound against Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Apr 3, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) grabs a rebound against Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

NEW YORK (AP) Pascal Siakam had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 26 points and nine boards and the Toronto Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 115-105 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight victory.

Serge Ibaka finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Raptors (56-23), who need to win their final three games to match last season's franchise record for victories. Their victory prevented the Milwaukee Bucks from clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

D'Angelo Russell had 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Nets, who fell to 39-40 and missed another chance to improve their playoff situation. They came into play seventh in the East but could have moved ahead of Detroit after the Pistons fell in Indiana.

Brooklyn has lost four of five. >> Read more

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Toronto Raptors
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Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell is fouled by Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe during the first half at Barclays Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell is fouled by Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe during the first half at Barclays Center. (Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points and 11 rebounds in his return to the lineup, Eric Bledsoe added 29 points and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Brooklyn Nets 131-121 on Monday night.

Reserve guard George Hill chipped in 22 points while Brook Lopez and Sterling Brown each scored 14 for the Bucks, who played without All-Star forward Khris Middleton because of soreness in his left groin.

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Milwaukee Bucks
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Jan 18, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) points during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Jan 18, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) points during the second half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

The Brooklyn Nets are all but back in the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2014-15. All that's really left to determine is who their opponent is going to be.

The Nets currently sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, up half a game against the eighth-seeded Miami Heat and behind half a game to the Detroit Pistons with six games to play. 

At the moment, they would face off against the Toronto Raptors in the first round, but with constantly shifting standings, the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks are potential adversaries too. Here's a look at which of the three teams makes for Brooklyn's best chance at an upset.

Tags: Philadelphia 76ers, Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Jarrett Allen, Milwaukee Bucks, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Spencer Dinwiddie, Toronto Raptors
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Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond goes up for a shot against Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen during the first half at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond goes up for a shot against Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen during the first half at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)

Spencer Dinwiddie scored 19 points and the Brooklyn Nets routed the Detroit Pistons 103-75 on Monday night to move into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

Allen Crabbe finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, Rodions Kurucs scored 13 points, and Joe Harris and Caris LeVert each added 12 as the Nets took control early in the game and never let up.

Tags: Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert, Detroit Pistons, Spencer Dinwiddie
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Mar 2, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
Mar 2, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell (1) reacts during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

"I'm gonna win that s--t. Watch. Put it on record. I'm gonna win it."

D'Angelo Russell beams with confidence as he firmly tells me that he's going to win the Most Improved Player Award. I mention a few names. He doesn't want to hear it. He's winning it.

"I'm telling you, I'm winning it!"

Russell just turned 23 years old and he's currently on top of the world. The former No. 2 overall pick is having the best year of his career, averaging 20.5 points and 6.7 assists on 37 percent shooting from three entering Monday's game -- all career-high's during a contract year. He just recently returned from All-Star Weekend and he's leading the Nets on an improbable run to the playoffs. 

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen
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San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge puts up a shot against Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen in the second quarter at Barclays Center. (Nicole Sweet/USA TODAY Sports)
San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge puts up a shot against Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen in the second quarter at Barclays Center. (Nicole Sweet/USA TODAY Sports)

D'Angelo Russell had 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets forced the San Antonio Spurs into perhaps their worst offensive performance of the season in a 101-85 victory Monday night.

A night after their defense was absent in a loss to the Knicks, the Spurs went across town and couldn't get their offense going. San Antonio was held to its lowest point total of the season, and the NBA's leading 3-point shooting team was a season-worst 16.7 percent behind the arc.

San Antonio came in shooting a little better than 40 percent behind the arc.

Tags: Caris LeVert, D'Angelo Russell, San Antonio Spurs
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