Brooklyn Nets: Analyzing Caris LeVert’s explosive performance against the Celtics

Caris LeVert Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Caris LeVert Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

Let’s take a look at Caris LeVert’s 51-point outing against the Boston Celtics in TD Garden on Tuesday night and what made it so special.

Going into Tuesday’s exhibition, hope was limited. The Brooklyn Nets were on a four-game losing streak and were scheduled to face their bitter rivals, who are also amongst the top teams in the conference, the Boston Celtics.

It was announced that Kyrie Irving had shoulder surgery earlier that day, officially ending his 2019/20 season. The only remaining purpose the season seemed to serve from then until the final horn was who the Nets should keep and who they should look to move. During this troubling time, Caris LeVert briefly adverted all our concerns by putting on a show for the ages.

Overall, the game was successful for the Nets in several ways.

Brooklyn’s zone defense significantly hindered the Celtics’ effectiveness in a half-court setting. DeAndre Jordan had a stellar performance, finishing with eight points and 15 rebounds. Multiple players who normally rarely see the light of day, such as Rodions Kurucs and Chris Chiozza, had positive contributions and were key to the Nets’ comeback.

Granted, the Celtics were without Jayson Tatum from the start and Gordon Hayward exited the game after 17 minutes due to a knee injury, but the Nets have their own share of injuries and are fighting through it.

To add to the significance of this win, this was the first time Brooklyn had won in Boston in seven long years. While the Nets had an overall solid game, it was Caris LeVert’s performance that will have a lasting impact.

Going into the fourth quarter, LeVert had 14 points with a particularly slow third-quarter, scoring none at all. The Celtics were up by double-digits for the vast majority of the second half, including a 10-point lead with just four minutes left in regulation.

In the fourth quarter is where LeVert really shined. It seemed like everything he hoisted was dropping— ranging from pull-up jumpers to off-the-dribble threes. In the last second of the fourth quarter, Marcus Smart fouled LeVert from beyond the perimeter and he made all three of his free throws, sending the game into overtime.

Spencer Dinwiddie did not play during the fourth quarter or OT; LeVert was surrounded by bench players throughout the entire duration of the OT period, highlighting his personal contributions even more. He finished the game scoring 51 points with 37 of those coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Both Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart were not able to defend Caris, who also finished the game with only three turnovers. For the season, he’s averaging 16.3 points on 39.9% percent shooting, making his performance on Tuesday exceptionally impressive and illuminating of his potential.

Teammate Kevin Durant tweeted out his adoration for his performance, “That 50 was beautiful, Vert. Thank you for that masterpiece.”

Coach Kenny Atkinson also praised his performance by telling Tim Dowd of the following:

"It was all him. We didn’t run anything, really. He just kind of took over. He called what’s in our playbook, but I was definitely not calling plays."

Seeing the extent of LeVert’s potential during this game gives the Nets several factors to consider going into the offseason. It’s safe to say that these types of games cannot be expected of LeVert every night, but with a green light and a high-usage, it’s not far-fetched to say he can muster out another impressive outing or two before the season concludes.

The Nets have to make a decision whether to trade him or attempt to integrate him with their two key pieces. Caris LeVert’s three-year, $52.5 million extension will kick this summer and the 25-year-old’s market definitely has value. So entertaining the idea of a trade is something Marks will likely do.

However, looking at next season the Nets may have to manage Durant and Irving’s workload to prevent future injuries and LeVert has proved he can thrive with a larger role. Likewise, it seems he could adapt to the two stars’ playstyles as his three-point shot has improved as the season has progressed. If he can stay respectable in catch and shoot instances, it would make sense to put some effort into making the Kyrie-KD-LeVert trio work.

Next. Could LeVert be that "third star?". dark

Whatever the case may be, Sean Marks has his work cut out in front of him once the weather heats up. But it’s moments like these that make the anxiousness of an unknown future a tad bit more bearable.