Eastern Notes: Nets, Lopez, Heat, Smith

The Nets made a major lineup change for Game 4 against the Sixers, starting Caris LeVert and Jared Dudley in place of DeMarre Carroll and Rodions Kurucs.

It’s an adjustment the team hopes can bring a much-needed spark to the starting group, and it’s a move head coach Kenny Atkinson considered making after a disappointing Game 3 loss on Thursday night.

“Yeah, it’s all open. We have to really look at it,” Atkinson said, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “This is part of the adjustment game, figuring out what they’re doing and how we can counter it. The first part of that is who you’re playing and when you’re playing them. Definitely, we’re back to the drawing board with that.”

Brooklyn has struggled to defend the interior despite not playing against a fully healthy Joel Embiid, losing the rebound battle by an average of 11 per game in the first three contests. Sixers guard Ben Simmons added a triple-double in Game 2 and a 31-point outing in Game 3 to make matters worse for the Nets.

When asked about the possibility of starting LeVert after Game 3, D’Angelo Russell said, “Yes, sure. Add another ball-handler out there, it definitely takes the pressure off me to bring it up and facilitate. I can almost get off it and become a scoring guard as well.”

Whether Atkinson’s sudden adjustment was a good choice will be determined in the coming games, as Brooklyn looks to avoid going down 3-1 in the series on Saturday.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference today:

  • Malika Andrews of ESPN examines how Brook Lopez modernized his game to thrive with the Bucks this season. Lopez, a two-way center who signed with Milwaukee last summer, fits well alongside the likes of Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo because of his ability to stretch the floor and shoot threes. Lopez made 187 of his 512 attempts from 3-point range this season (37%), both career-highs. “I always had confidence in myself shooting,” Lopez said. “I believed I could shoot it in NBA games one day, but at this level? This many? No. I didn’t see it.”
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks examines the offseason outlook for the Heat, who ended the 2018/19 season in a disappointing manner when the team missed the playoffs. The Heat are essentially in the same position they were at this time last year, minus the fact that Dwyane Wade has entered retirement.
  • The Cavaliers are expected to re-examine the trade market for guard J.R. Smith, who mutually agreed to part ways with the team this season. “We have a trade chip in J.R. Smith, and his contract, where we can take on some money that other teams are trying to get some cap relief from,” general manager Koby Altman said last week, as relayed by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “We are actually the only team in the NBA that can provide guaranteed cap relief until July 1. We can guarantee that right now and we actually had a phone call (Thursday) on that trade chip, so, we’re going to keep on being aggressive adding those assets because we do eventually want to consolidate and be really good at some point.” Smith, who turns 34 in September, is set to make $15.6MM next year in the final season of his contract, but most of that money is non-guaranteed.
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4 thoughts on “Eastern Notes: Nets, Lopez, Heat, Smith

  1. J.D. I guarantee you JR Smith will not make that much money next season. Unless Cleveland trades JR and the next team is dumb enough to miss the date to dump him.

  2. x%sure

    Kurucs did not even get into game 4. Meanwhile Carroll keeps missing evety shot. At this point the best thing for the Nets is to hit their shots. Too many open misses.
    Can’t blame gm4 on the refs.

    • D$!LLKU$H-og

      Yep. Miss or make league. Even Joe Harris is throwing up brick after brick. I’ve watched almost every game this year and he’s never shot the ball this poorly for three straight games. I think after the game 1 win they started playing tight and stopped playing loose. Ed Davis not playing is a big reason too.

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