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Pre-game Notes: Carroll day-to-day; Russell practices and LeVert returns

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Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Kenny Atkinson fielded questions prior to Brooklyn’s matchup against Toronto, sitting five games back of the eighth seed in the East. However, pre-game was more of an injury report more than anything else.

DAY-TO-DAY DEMARRE

Atkinson discussed the knee injury to DeMarre Carroll which he suffered at the end of the Nets-Celtics game on Saturday. Atkinson said he’s “day-to-day.”

“No, no timeline. Day to day. Day to day,” Atkinson reiterated. “Just a little sprain, nothing big. Unfortunately he’s not playing tonight, but fortunate it’s not something bad.”

Carroll injured the same knee that caused him to miss 55 games two seasons back with Toronto. The Nets are calling it a sprain. This doesn’t help them in any case because he isn’t on the court and the injury could complicate and trade talks. DMC’s name has come up in several trade rumors, notably with teams like the Detroit Pistons and New Orleans Pelicans.

It should be noted that this upcoming Wednesday is the G-League showcase - the last time that GM’s around the league will get together before the new February 8 trade deadline. GM’s used to gather at the All-Star break, but since the deadline has moved, up this will be the new thing.

DLO PRACTICES WITH LONG ISLAND, NO DATE FOR RETURN

Early Monday, the Nets announced the D’Angelo Russell practiced with the Long Island Nets, their G League affiliate, and was immediately recalled after the practice was over. This would be the first action we’ve heard about since Russell hurt his knee nearly eight weeks back. He’s missed 24 games since and the Nets are 9-15 in that span.

Atkinson explains that the practice was all a part of the plan and there is no date for his return.

“First of all, he had a good practice with the G League today and then it’s going to be the performance team and the medical team he has to bang with so how does he react to that? Again, I think it’s just progressing information and feedback so its tough to map it out.

“I think one step at a time, he had a great practice with the G League team today and [we’ll] evaluate tomorrow, then hopefully build on that,” said Atkinson.

Asked about practicing with the Long Island Nets, Atkinson replied, “Yep. Part of the plan.”

Russell asked about his day, said: “I’ve been out for a while, so just getting out there with the G League team – they were amazing.

“They were going 100 mph – it was great. Just getting that sweat again is what I’ve been looking for.”

WELCOME BACK, CARIS

After missing the last two games with a left groin strain, Caris LeVert is back in the lineup. He’s played very well of late — averaging 16 points and six assists in 28 minutes per game.

“Yeah that’s huge, getting him handling the ball on that second unit obviously he’s going to give us a boost. I thought the Celtics did take advantage of us a little without our primary ball-handler in there on that second unit. So that’s a welcome thing.

“Again, I don’t think we’re going to expect 40 minutes from him tonight, I think its going to be a buildup with Caris just to be smart about it,” said Atkinson.

DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENTS

Over the last five games, the Nets are a top-five team in the NBA. They’ve held their last three opponents to below 100 points, giving them a 10-1 record on the season when doing so.

What’s changed?

“Just sticking with our habits, our principles, just banging it out every day. We haven’t really changed much. I’d say we’re probably switching more than we have, and it’s not straight-up switching; I think it’s late switching, understanding when we can switch and when we’re not, just getting a feel for that. So I think that’s helped us a lot.

“And then I think we’ve taken our physicality to another level, whether it’s in pick and roll defense or dribble handoffs. And our rebounding has been pretty good. We’ve got five guys going to the boards and competing; our guard rebounding’s been good. So it’s been all those things put together.”

MATCHUP AGAINST RAPTORS

The last time the Nets and Raptors played one another it didn’t end so well for the Nets. They suffered a 120-87 loss, perhaps their worst effort of the season. Kenny Atkinson had high praise for DeMar DeRozan, who has been a clear cut All-Star this season.

“It seems like he’s handling the ball a ton more, sharing it with Lowry. They’re like two point guards out there. I’m not sure if his usage numbers are up – I would think they are. He’s just got great confidence about him, he’s in that money zone right now playing great basketball. What I like about him is he defends. He plays both ways, All-Star player having a great year.”

***

Expect a dogfight from the Nets. As noted before, it’s hard to imagine they’ll want to come with a poor effort after losing by 33 to these guys last time.

As for the injury report - they all sound positive, but don’t forget: They said D’Angelo’s knee injury was a sprain too. He ended up having surgery days later.

Tip off is at 7:30 pm ET.