D’Angelo Russell is Back for Brooklyn Nets

CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 22: D'Angelo Russell
CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 22: D'Angelo Russell /

Despite the Brooklyn Nets loss to the Cavaliers, D’Angelo Russell put together his best performance since a knee injury he suffered in November.

In a competitive game against the reigning Eastern Conference champions, D’Angelo Russell looked like he might propel the Brooklyn Nets to a shocking road victory. Late in the fourth quarter, Russell ran a pick-and-roll with Jarrett Allen. Both Cavalier defenders sunk under the screen and hung with Allen. Russell stopped on a dime and made them pay, draining a three and putting the Nets up late with only minutes to go in the game.

Russell was rolling against the Cavaliers, finding the shots he wanted and keeping his teammates involved. On 9-18 shooting, Russell finished with 25 points to go with five rebounds and six assists. He also finished as the only Nets’ player with a positive plus/minus, finishing a +10. Russell punished the Cavaliers when they slacked on defense:

The stats are unsurprising considering what was happening on the court. Russell looked to be playing at a different speed altogether for most of the game, zipping around passes and setting the tone on offense. Russell found DeMarre Carroll with the Cavaliers out of position on the fast break:

No one on the Cavaliers had any answer for him. With Russell at the helm, the Nets scored 123 points and shot 53.7% from the floor.

Strong Play of Late

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It wasn’t just the game against Cleveland, though. In his last six games, Russell has averaged 17.5 points and 6.3 assists per game. He had 18 points and nine assist against Indiana. He put up 21 and five against the Pelicans. He’s playing nearly 30 minutes per game, and the game against the Cavaliers was part of a back-to-back.

After missing over two months with a knee injury, Russell returned in January on a minutes restriction. During the month, he averaged just nine points and under two assists per game. A player who relies on his shiftiness and ability to get past defenders, he struggled, clearly still rehabbing his knee. Now, nearly three months since the injury, Russell looks like he did early in the season.

With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert back in the lineup, and Russell back to health, the Nets finally have their best young players available together. After a rough January and February, Russell’s return should help the Nets improve to close out the season.