The last time Caris LeVert saw the postseason, she was in the necessary COVID bubble trying to lead the Nets into what would have been a stunning Raptors upset.
On Tuesday night, the circumstances were very different: I was back at the Barclays Center trying to beat the Nets, not help them, in the entry tournament, looking to lead the eighth-seeded Cavaliers past the Nets. No. 7 and the main classification. postseason draw. But Levert, who had 12 points and seven assists as the Cavaliers fell 115-108 to the Nets, will now have to win Friday against the winner of the Hawks/Hornets to earn a spot in the NBA playoffs.
In an ironic twist, the player the Nets traded LeVert for last season, James Harden, was in Philly, and the player they traded Harden for, Ben Simmons, was on the bench and not yet ready to make a move. his debut with the Nets due to a back injury. .
Before the trade deadline, the woeful Pacers traded LeVert to the Cavaliers for shooting guard Ricky Rubio and draft compensation. In Cleveland he averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 19 games, 10 of which he started.
LeVert helped the Cavaliers to the play-in tournament, a huge surprise for a team that had averaged 20 wins the previous three seasons. But under coach JB Bickerstaff, the young core far exceeded expectations.
“I think he will rise to the occasion. When you go back and look at him historically, when the moment calls for it, he’s there,” Bickerstaff said. “He gives us a [scoring] hit, another guy who can beat his man and go score the ball, which we all know in playoff and postseason basketball is extremely important. You need guys that can beat their man and create, and Caris has the ability to do that.”
LeVert is one of only three Cavaliers players with playoff experience, along with Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo. Even if it’s only nine games, he’s at least experienced it before.
LeVert’s NBA career has been filled with stops and starts, injuries, glimpses of his immense ability, two trades and a very scary health situation. A first-round pick (20th overall) out of Michigan in 2016, LeVert was limited early in his career by a serious foot injury. He methodically improved and averaged a career-best 18.7 points per game in 2019-20, when the COVID-19 pandemic cut his season short.
The following year, LeVert got off to a strong start, before being included in the James Harden trade that sent him to the Pacers. As part of his health review exchange, it was revealed that he had a cancerous mass in his left kidney. Fortunately, he was caught early enough that he could be removed and he only missed two months.
“In a way, this exchange definitely showed and revealed what was going on in my body, so I’m definitely looking at it from that side and I’m definitely honored that this exchange could have possibly saved me in the long run.” LeVert said at the time.