Welcome back, Caris.
The Nets will lose four games to the Raptors on Saturday. It's the longest time they fought the same Raptors last season. But at least help is on the way, since Caris LeVert and Garrett Temple were both considered likely.
Although Temple has only played one game with a painful knee, LeVert missed 24 goals after a thumb operation. He hasn't played since November 10th, but even if he's rusted and probably only plays for a few minutes, his return is a great blessing.
"That's the plan: plan to make a difference when I get back," said LeVert in Dallas.
LeVert was the second best scorer on the networks when he went under with an average of 16.8 points, five rebounds and four assists. Kyrie Irving was lost with a shoulder impact four days later and although Irving has not exercised since then, LeVert is about to make a comeback.
"Whenever you are not there – well, not included [Kevin Durant] – but getting your top two players back is a big boost, ”said Spencer Dinwiddie, who has taken on an excessive burden in Irving's absence.
But the problem is not what Dinwiddie brings with him when he's on the court, but what he takes away when he's not.
Irving was the starting point, and LeVert took on the role of the emergency point keeper. Since both were injured, Theo Pinson was up and down in this capacity while Temple was worn out, trying to both start off guard and lead the second unit.
This is where LeVert can be most effective right from the start.
"It has to be the Swiss Army Knife," said trainer Kenny Atkinson. "It's easy to push him in a lot of positions. When guys were outside, he played point guard. He's a point guard at heart, so he feels comfortable and knows everything we do. … It will really help [Garrett Temple] Also to bring him back into his comfort zone. "
It is an understatement when Dinwiddie says it is a crime crater. The nets are plus-48 when he plays, best in a team. And they are minus 85 when he sits, again the most blatant figure.
The offensive rating of 110.2 with Dinwiddie on the pitch drops to 95.8 whenever he is sitting. It's a 95.7 with Pinson.
LeVert completed several 5v5 contact exercises and fully practiced this week for the first time since November 7th. He worked with both the starters and the reserves as an off-guard and backup point guard.
"I drove with both groups, with interchangeable points, the 1 and the 2," said LeVert, convinced that his condition is much more advanced than last season's comeback after a slipped foot. "It is definitely different because it is an upper body injury. I was not one of them [running], I haven't been running for a while. This is not the case this time. I could lift and walk a lot and things like that, so it's definitely a lot different. "
LeVert's return could not come at a better time to help the networks get out of what Atkinson called "a fear".
"We've been through this before. It happens in the NBA," said Atkinson. "But I like our group there. We'll jump back. Hopefully it'll be against a very good team from Toronto on Saturday."
It was the victory against the Raptors on December 8th that helped an 8-18 Nets team spin around last season. They went on a run of seven games and reached the playoffs.
"In any experience, positive or negative, you can learn from it. Obviously, we prefer to learn from gains rather than losses," said Dinwiddie. "We will continue to make changes and practice and do everything we can to keep improving "But you don't want to drop games anymore."