Brooklyn Nets: 3 things to watch in post-break return against Blazers

Brooklyn Nets Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets Caris LeVert. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

3. Who sits with everyone available?

With Rodions Kurucs sidelined with an elbow injury and Treveon Graham unavailable for personal reasons for the Brooklyn Nets’ Feb. 13 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returned to the starting lineup.

For LeVert, it was his first start since Nov. 12, the night he dislocated his right foot. He missed 42 games while recovering from the injury and made his return on Feb. 8 against the Chicago Bulls.

LeVert’s workload has steadily increased in his three games back. After playing 15 minutes off the bench against the Bulls, LeVert played 23 minutes as a reserve against the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 11 and logged 31 minutes in Cleveland as a starter.

The third-year wing hasn’t exactly found his rhythm offensively yet, but that was to be expected after a three-month absence.

He’s averaged 9.7 points, 5.7 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals in 22.7 minutes per game in his first three games back, shooting 36.1 percent overall and going 2-for-13 from 3-point range.

Defensively, he’s been mostly solid — posting five steals against Chicago in his return — and he hit a pair of 3s against the Cavaliers after missing on his first nine attempts in his comeback.

When LeVert went down, Allen Crabbe entered the starting lineup and when Crabbe was injured in mid-December, the rookie Kurucs moved into the starting unit.

If LeVert is back as a starter, he and Joe Harris will be interchangeable at the 2 and 3 spots.

Whether coach Kenny Atkinson opts to move Kurucs to the 4 (likely his future home once he adds more bulk), sticks with Graham — who has started 14 of Brooklyn’s last 16 games — or goes with Hollis-Jefferson at the 4 Thursday night against the Portland Trail Blazers is anyone’s guess.

I haven’t been right with a lineup prediction after an injury or before a return from one yet, so I’m not even going to speculate (but my hunch says it will still be Graham, because Atkinson (a) likes continuity and (b) loves Graham’s defense).

Brooklyn enters Thursday’s game with just one player — sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie — on the injury report, the fewest players listed the team has had all season.

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The Nets appear to be getting healthy … and just in time for a grueling closing stretch.