Brooklyn Nets: Caris LeVert

D’Angelo Russell gives the Brooklyn Nets a genuine star through which to run everything. It gets a little touch-and-go after him. Brooklyn is deep—not to mention tireless—but wants for higher-end talent.women’s authentic nfl jerseys

Caris LeVert is best suited to begin bridging that talent deficit the Nets will face every game. He emerged as their top gun early in the season before a dislocated right foot halted his progress in November and opened the door for Russell to bust out. The variance in his play is real, but he’s the closest Brooklyn can come to a conventional second option.

Head coach Kenny Atkinson shares this position, per the New York Post’s Brian Lewis: women nfl jerseyhi-res-a5028e775ceddbb776fba8a8ab4c7dc6_crop_exact

“The good thing, we haven’t seen any regression. You’re afraid it’s just a one-game thing or a two-game thing; now he’s stringing three, four, five games together. It changes the conversation. He’s an X factor in these playoffs. If he can continue to play at the level he’s playing—even raise it one more level—that gives us more confidence going into the playoffs.”
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LeVert went kaboom in the final two weeks of the regular season. He averaged 16.0 points and 4.3 assists over his final eight games while putting down 47.6 percent of his pull-up triples and posting a true shooting percentage of 59.1.

Teensy-tiny end-of-the-year samples are not reliable telltales. But this isn’t about the (nonexistent) merits of momentum. LeVert was scoring at a similar clip, albeit with frostier shooting from distance, before his Nov. 12 injury. His most recent progress is more of a return to normal than temporary transformation. nike nfl jerseys on sale

Second-Biggest X-factor: Jared Dudley-at-the-5 lineups!women nfl jersey

Every NBA Playoff Team’s Biggest X-Factor

Stars drive the outcome of every NBA playoff series. Titles are not won without them. The list of Finals MVPs wouldn’t be dominated by Hall of Famers, both present and future, if they didn’t have the most control over postseason fates.nike nfl jerseys on saled49145a3aeb3a763b55ccba7290fe4b0_crop_exact

Still, playoff basketball isn’t only about the most obvious players. Teams are more than their tippy-top talent. They have sidekicks, role players, unsung heroes and, yes, higher-profile wild cards.

Everyone’s interpretation of X-factors is different. Some will argue that superstars can act as undersold turning points. They’re not wrong. Others see this designation as an opportunity to celebrate a roster’s deepest cuts. They’re not wrong, either.

Our search for this year’s top X-factors exists somewhere in the middle. Marquee talent isn’t off-limits, but we’re not singling out megastars. Their importance is assumed.china nfl jerseys nike

This is an ode to the postseason’s biggest swing pieces—unheralded No. 2s, fourth and fifth wheels and the occasional household name who fills a lesser role.

Jaylen Brown is a tempting selection. Marcus Smart’s absence will impact him more than anyone. Many of the toughest defensive assignments, beginning with Bojan Bogdanovic, will fall to him.

That curveball isn’t enough to overtake Gordon Hayward, though. He has been the Boston Celtics’ ultimate X-factor since the start of the season—their championship swing piece. Boston is a different team if he is even 75 percent of the player it signed in 2017.women nfl jersey

It has taken time. Hayward still doesn’t look like himself after he suffered a dislocated ankle and fractured left tibia on opening night last season. Rival offenses continue to target him in the half court.women’s authentic nfl jerseys

More and more, though, Hayward is getting closer to all the way back. As The Athletic’s Jay King wrote:where can i buy authentic nfl jerseys

“He has escaped from his post-injury funk with the battering, slashing style that made him an All-Star in Utah. Hayward is finishing at the rim with power and balance once again. He’s drawing free throws at approximately double his rate versus earlier in the season. He always seems in control, whether he’s spinning into a fadeaway jumper or firing a cross-court pass into a teammate’s shooting pocket.”buy nfl jerseys from china

Houston Rockets’ Dominant Start to Playoffs Is Worse for Utah Jazz Than It Seems

From the first time James Harden had the ball in Sunday’s 122-90 win over the Utah Jazz, it was clear he’d face the gimmicky defense the Milwaukee Bucks threw at him in the regular season.nike nfl jerseys from china

Ricky Rubio basically sat on his left shoulder. He wasn’t just trying to take that direction away from Harden. He was all but begging him to go right, as seen in this tweet from NBC’s Brody Logan:

Even in a 32-point drubbing, several things went right for the Jazz.womens nfl jersey

They more than doubled Houston’s attempts from the line (27 to 12).best price nfl jerseys
They had Harden somewhat contained.hi-res-456a6e27becfb7f564abbac73092b47a_crop_north
Ricky Rubio went 5-of-11 for 15 points.
Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 12 rebounds on 8-of-10 shooting.

That first bullet point could become a trend—the Jazz actually topped the Rockets in both free-throw attempts and free-throw-attempt rate this season—but it’s not likely to be that lopsided.

The huge disparity had a lot to do with Harden only getting to the line three times. In Houston’s gentlemen’s sweep of Utah last season, he took 8.6 free throws per game. Good luck keeping him off the stripe.

As for Rubio, his numbers are encouraging but maybe a bit of a mirage. He was more efficient than usual and scored a few more points than his season average. But Houston will live with Rubio jumpers all series.nfl jerseys women

The Rockets will stay home on Gobert’s rolls to the rim and hug up on Donovan Mitchell whenever Rubio has the ball. Letting either of them get loose would be far more damaging than a solid game from the pass-first point guard.

And then there’s Gobert. Individually, he was great. Last year, he was fine, too. In the five-game series against Houston, he averaged 12.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while shooting 71.4 percent from the field.

But Utah was minus-19.0 points per 100 possessions when Gobert was on the floor in that series—the worst net rating of any player on the team, according to NBA.com. Sunday, he was a team-worst minus-23.the authentic nfl jerseys

Houston may have figured out the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.official nfl nike jerseys

Playing Derrick Favors more at the 5 might help. His net rating against Houston last postseason was still comfortably in the red, but minus-9.3 is better than minus-19.0. On Sunday, he was the only Jazz player with a positive plus-minus.where to get nfl jerseys

He’s a bit more switchable on the perimeter than Gobert, but this honestly might just be grasping at straws. The Rockets will still funnel him plenty of the same pick-your-poison scenarios as the one seen above.nfl jerseys china nike

And again, this all happened on a night during which Harden was relatively contained. Things can go better for the Rockets than they did Sunday, especially when he clicks.clearance nfl jerseys

“I’ve literally seen every strategy defensively teams can possibly do,” Harden said during the postgame press conference.nfl jersey for sale

This is likely more of an off night than any sort of solution Utah has discovered. And that’s terrifying for anyone in Houston’s path.