Brook Lopez now stands in Nets’ title path with Bucks

When he was a Net, Brook Lopez performed with Vince Carter … underneath coach Lawrence Frank … on the Izod Center in East Rutherford.

Yes, Lopez’s rookie season with the 2008-09 Nets looks like a number of lifetimes in the past. In reality, Carter performed for six extra groups after that last season with the Nets earlier than retirement. Frank was 10 head coaches in the past for the Nets. They’ve even modified house arenas twice — and states as soon as — since then.

Through most of that change, Lopez was a relentless lone vivid spot for some non-competitive groups throughout a nine-year run that ended when he was traded to the Lakers in June 2017. Four years later, he might be beginning for the Bucks towards the Nets in a playoff collection that begins Saturday night time.

“I have great memories of my time with the Nets and I look back on them fondly a lot,” the 33-year-old Lopez mentioned. “Definitely wish we could’ve been more successful in the playoffs, but I played with a lot of great players … and so many special people from a teammate, coaching and organizational standpoint.”

Lopez obtained a heat welcome in his first recreation as a customer at Barclays Center, when he scored 12 of his 19 factors throughout a third-quarter rally to steer the Lakers to a win on Feb. 2, 2018. That identical night time, Joe Harris missed what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer on the buzzer — and now Harris is the one former teammate going through Lopez as a result of Spencer Dinwiddie (ACL) is out for the season and Caris LeVert was traded in January.

Brook Lopez

“Brook is one of my favorite guys in the NBA,” Harris mentioned. “He’s one of those guys who’s very charismatic and people gravitate toward him.”

The Nets had as many 60-loss seasons (three) as playoff berths throughout Lopez’s tenure, which was highlighted by choices to the All-Rookie staff and the 2012 All-Star staff. He was the Nets’ main scorer in first-round playoff exits towards the Bulls and the Hawks and missed many of the 2013-14 season, together with the playoffs, with a foot harm when leases Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett acquired the Nets to the second spherical.

So, does this collection really feel totally different than the opposite six he has performed over three seasons since becoming a member of the Bucks?

“It will probably be different,” Lopez mentioned. “I don’t really know yet. I’m excited to go back and play on that court in Brooklyn again, but we’re going to be pretty focused once tip-off comes.”

These Nets are title favorites as a result of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving seemingly rating at will, however Lopez is the franchise’s all-time chief in factors (10,444). He additionally ranks second in video games performed and third in rebounds — and continues to be filling the boxscore in Milwaukee.

“He could be one of the wild cards,” Nets coach Steve Nash mentioned.

Nets followers who haven’t saved tabs on Lopez may not acknowledge his present recreation.

In his first eight seasons with the Nets, Lopez totaled three 3-pointers. He was simply changing into a stretch-five when he left city, and now he has made 95 or extra 3s in 5 straight seasons, taking pictures 34.3 p.c from behind the arc throughout his Bucks profession. He nonetheless can flip again the clock, nevertheless.

“I make the joke whenever he is in the paint and hitting those step-back fadeaways from 12-15 feet, I call him, ‘Brooklyn Brook,’ ” Bucks guard Pat Connaughton mentioned. “Because that’s what he was doing when he was an All-Star in Brooklyn. For us, we spread the floor, and Brook has really taken advantage of his size and his skill and his ability to have an impact on the game inside the 3-point line as well as outside.”

On a staff led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, Lopez was a difference-maker with 15.8 factors and 6.8 rebounds per recreation through the Bucks’ first-round sweep of the Heat. Both averages signify spikes from his regular-season numbers (12.3 factors, 5.0 rebounds).

“Brook is the epitome of he is going to play the way that he plays,” Connaughton mentioned, “no matter if it is a regular-season game or a postseason game.”

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