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Nets vs. Heat: Russell Streaking Back into Brooklyn

The news on Tuesday that Caris LeVert will not require surgery and is expected to return this season was welcome, but in the short term the Brooklyn Nets will be without their rising star, beginning with Wednesday night’s game at Barclays Center against the Miami Heat.

Through Monday night’s game in which he did not return after halftime, LeVert is averaging 18.4 points, 4.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. He’s also been a go-to player in end-of-game situations, with winners against the Knicks and Nuggets.

Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe would seem to be the first options to step into the starting guard spot, or the recently returned DeMarre Carroll could start at forward with Joe Harris sliding over to guard.

RUSSELL ON THE RISE

D’Angelo Russell scored 31 points on a career-high nine 3-pointers against the Timberwolves on Monday night, and also notched six assists. Over Brooklyn’s last five games, Russell is averaging 20.4 points while shooting 40.4 percent from 3-pont range with 5.0 assists and just 1.2 turnovers in 26.6 minutes per game.

The stretch includes two other 20-point games for Russell — 23 points, five assists and four rebounds against Denver and 21 points and six assists against Philadelphia, both Nets wins.

BACK IN BROOKLYN

The Nets return to Barclays Center after splitting their four-game road trip. Wins over Phoenix and Denver gave them a three-game win streak before they ran into defending champion Golden State on Saturday night. The hopes for a 3-1 road trip quickly became an afterthought once LeVert was taken off the floor in Minnesota Monday night, and the Timberwolves pulled away in the fourth quarter.

ABOUT THE HEAT

The Heat are 5-8 after Monday night’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and have lost their last three games. Hassan Whiteside is second in the NBA in rebounding (15.2 per game) and first in blocks (3.2) helping to make Miami first in team blocks (6.9). The Heat are also fifth in offensive rebounding (12.2) and fourth in second chance points (15.7). Josh Richardson leads Miami with 20.5 points per game and is shooting 41.9 percent from 3-point range. The Heat are sixth in the NBA in 3-point percentage (37.4).

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