PREVIEW: Brooklyn Nets happy to see Caris LeVert as they visit Indiana Pacers

Jan 7, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

To obtain James Harden, the Brooklyn Nets parted with some of their young core who made them a destination for stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in free agency.

One of those pieces was Caris LeVert, whom the Nets will oppose Wednesday night when they visit the Indiana Pacers.

LeVert joined the Nets in a draft-night trade with the Pacers in 2016 as the Nets were in their infancy stage of rebuilding under GM Sean Marks. In 225 games with the Nets, he averaged 13.1 points, improved his scoring average each season and was viewed as an attractive piece in any trade to include Harden.

Read More: 4 potential Brooklyn Nets trade scenarios ahead of NBA trade deadline

LeVert averaged 25 points in Brooklyn’s eight games in the bubble last summer and was averaging 18.5 points in 12 games before being part of the Harden trade on Jan. 14. In his final five games as a Net, LeVert scored 130 points and shot 50 percent.

He is just two games into his tenure with the Pacers, however, after a cancerous mass on his left kidney was discovered during a team physical and medical testing before the four-team trade was official.

“We’re really proud that Caris is returning to play here,” Nets coach Steve Nash said before Monday’s game against the New York Knicks. “He’s incredibly well-loved in this organization, a world-class human being, a terrific basketball player. There’s no doubt everyone here is rooting for him.”

LeVert returned on Saturday and scored 13 points in a 122-111 win over the Phoenix Suns. He then scored 17 points in Monday’s 121-106 loss at Denver.

“I’m just honored and humbled to call him a friend, call him a brother,” Irving said. “I wish nothing but maximum health and success. I love him and my family loves him, so going back and seeing him is always an honor, and it’s even better to go and compete against him because I know he’s going to give us his best and that’s what we want.”

The Nets head to Indiana as the NBA’s hottest team on a 13-1 run that started with a 104-94 home win over the Pacers on Feb. 10. They are on a five-game winning streak since a 115-98 loss to Dallas on Feb. 27 and enter Wednesday with a seven-game road winning streak.

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Eight of Brooklyn’s wins in this streak are by double-digits and the Nets are coming off their two toughest wins. After struggling offensively most of Saturday in a 100-95 triumph over Detroit, the Nets gave up nearly all of an 18-point lead against New the Knights on Monday before escaping with a 117-112 victory.

On Monday, Irving scored 34 points and Harden totaled 21 points, 15 assists and 15 rebounds. Harden has 10 triple-doubles with the Nets and six are during the last 12 games.

Indiana is struggling to find its footing this season and since getting over .500 on Feb. 17, the Pacers are 2-7 in their past nine and have allowed over 110 points in eight of those games.

Monday, the Pacers allowed at least 120 points for the ninth time this season and at least 15 3-pointers for the 11th time. After nearly overcoming a 20-point deficit, they were outscored 34-15 in the fourth quarter.

“I think for us to get to where we want to go, we can’t get down 20 points to a good team like that,” LeVert said. “I think a lot of it was on the defensive side of the ball, so we just got to clean that up.”

–Field Level Media

Deaths in sports this year

Howard Schnellenberger (Miami Hurricanes Head Coach)

Miami, FL – Coach Howard Schnellenberger of the University of Miami Hurricanes during a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions in November 1981 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)

Schnellenberger died on March 27th, 2021. He was 87.

Elgin Baylor (Los Angeles Lakers)

New York, NY — Los Angeles Lakers forward Elgin Baylor (22) shoots against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor died of natural causes on March 22, 2021. He was 86.

'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler (Boxer)

Las Vegas, NV – John Mugabi and Marvin Hagler fight for the WBA, WBC, and IBF Middleweight titles on March 10, 1986 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hagler won the fight with an 11th round knockout. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Hagler died unexpectedly on March 13. He was 66.

Rheal Cormier (MLB Pitcher)

San Francisco, CA – Pitcher Rheal Cormier #37 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers against the San Francisco Giants during the MLB game at Pac Bell Park on August 9, 2003 in San Francisco, California. The Phillies won 8-6. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Cormier died on March 8th. He was 53.

Mark Pavelich (1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team)

Lake Placid, NY – The USA Team celebrates their 4-3 victory over Russia in the semi-final of the Ice Hockey event at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, USA. The game was dubbed “The Miracle on Ice”. The USA went on to win the gold medal by defeat. (Getty Images)

Pavelich died on March 5th. He was 63.

Joe Altobelli (MLB Manager)

Los Angeles, CA – San Francisco Giants manager Joe Altobelli argues with an umpire during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Darryl Norenberg-USA TODAY Sports

Altobelli died on March 3rd. He was 88.

Irv Cross (Broadcaster/NFL Defensive Back)

Pasadena, CA, USA – CBS broadcaster Irv Cross (left) interviews NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cross died on February 28th. He was 81.

Vincent Jackson (NFL Wide Receiver)

Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) is introduced as he runs out of the tunnel before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Raymond James Stadium on September 13, 2015. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson died on February 15th. He was 38.

Marty Schottenheimer (NFL Head Coach)

St. Louis, MO – Kansas City Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer on the sidelines against the New York Jets at Busch Stadium during the 1991 preseason. Credit: Herb Weitman-USA TODAY NETWORK

Schottenheimer died on February 8th. He was 77.

Pedro Gomez (MLB Reporter)

MESA, AZ – Perdo Gomez of ESPN stands in the stands prior to the game between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants at Hohokam Stadium on March 3, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

Gomez died on February 7th. He was 58.

Leon Spinks (Boxer)

Heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, works out at the Fifth Street Gym in Miami on Jan. 13, 1987. (photo by Tim Chapman)

Spinks died on February 5th. He was 67.

John Chaney (Temple Owls)

LANDOVER, MD – Head coach John Chaney of the Temple Owls looks on from the bench against the Georgetown Hoyas during an NCAA College basketball game circa 1995 at the US Airways Arena in Landover, Maryland. Chaney coached at Temple from 1982-2006. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Chaney died on January 29th. He was 89.

George Armstrong (Toronto Maple Leafs)

TORONTO, ON – Former Leafs Captain George Armstrong waves to the crowd beside (L-R) Red Kelly and David Keon during a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Leafs 64′ Stancley Cup before action between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks during NHL action at the Air Canada Centre February 8, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

Armstrong died on January 24th. He was 90.

Hawthorne Wingo (New York Knicks)

Atlanta, GA – New York Knicks forward Hawthorne Wingo (43) in action against the Atlanta Hawks at the Omni. Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Wingo died on January 23rd. He was 73.

Hank Aaron (Atlanta Braves)

Atlanta, GA, – Atlanta Braves outfielder Hank Aaron (44) celebrates after breaking the all-time career home run record previously held by Babe Ruth at Fulton County Stadium against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron died on January 22nd. He was 86.

Ted Thompson (Green Bay Packers)

Arlington, TX – Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy (left) and general manager Ted Thompson after the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Thompson died on January 20th. He was 68.

Don Sutton (MLB Pitcher)

PITTSBURGH, PA – Pitcher Don Sutton of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a Major League Baseball game at Three Rivers Stadium in 1977 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

Sutton died on January 18th. He was 75.

Tommy Lasorda (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles Dodgers former manager Tommy Lasorda in attendance as the Los Angeles Dodgers face off against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles CA. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Copyright u00a9 2007 Gary A. Vasquez

Lasorda died January 7th. He was 93.

John Muckler (Edmonton Oilers)

BOSTON, MA – Glen Sather head coach and assistant coach John Muckler of the Edmonton Oilers direct action from behind bench against the Boston Bruins at Boston Garden. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Muckler died on January 4th. He was 86.

Paul Westphal (NBA Head Coach)

PHOENIX, AZ – As part of their 50th season celebration the Phoenix Suns honor former coach Paul Westphal before the game against the Houston Rockets on January 12, 2018 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

Westphal died on January 2nd. He was 70.

Floyd Little (Denver Broncos)

CINCINNATI, OH – Running back Floyd Little #44 of the Denver Broncos runs upfield during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Riverfront Stadium on October 8, 1972 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Broncos 21-10. (Photo by Clifton Boutelle/Getty Images)

Little died on January 1st. He was 78.

Howard Schnellenberger (Miami Hurricanes Head Coach)

Miami, FL – Coach Howard Schnellenberger of the University of Miami Hurricanes during a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions in November 1981 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)

Schnellenberger died on March 27th, 2021. He was 87.