It was expected and now it’s official.
Kyrie Irving will make his highly anticipated season debut Wednesday night against the Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indiana. The Nets left Irving off the status report, indicating he will play. The Nets guard, who cleared the league’s health and safety protocols on December 28, has been ramping up. Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers is the first road game Irving was eligible to play in.
Steve Nash tried to tamp down the expectations of Irving returning Wednesday, explaining that the team did not make a firm decision at that time. That decision has been made and following the 118-104 defeat to the Grizzlies Monday night at Barclays Center, James Harden characterized the foreseeable return of Irving as a “spark” to the funk-filled Nets., who are riding a three-game losing skid into Indiana.
“It definitely gives us a spark. Something that we’re going to need in a three-game skid right now,” said Harden. “It definitely gives us a spark and a blessing that we can have him back. We got to do things in that film session to continue to get better with our principles and our detail. Adding Kyrie is more special.”
Kevin Durant, who has expressed his excitement throughout the past week with Irving being back in the fold on a part-time basis added that he knows the seven-time All-Star guard is feeling a mixture of emotions heading into his season debut. He emphasized that he and his teammates will support Irving throughout the process.
“He loves to play. He loves being out there with his teammates so I can’t wait to see him out there,” said Durant. “This is our livelihoods. This is something we dream about every day. To go through this situation and get an opportunity to play right now, I know there’s a lot of emotions going through his head, and as teammates, we got to be there to support him from the beginning of it. He’s starting to get his rhythm and figure out how he wants to play and just go from there.”
Brooklyn, who holds a league-best 13-3 road record will be on the road for the majority of January. With Irving active for Wednesday night’s contest, he will now be able to play 12 of the Nets’ next 18 games.
The Nets have listed LaMarcus Aldridge (right foot soreness) as questionable and have ruled Joe Harris (ankle surgery) out. Shortly after Aldridge was scratched from Monday night’s game against the Grizzlies, the Nets head coach said he doesn’t believe Aldridge’s injury will be a long-term concern, pinpointing it as irritation that needs rest.
Langston Galloway and Shaquille Harrison remain on the Nets roster. The two 10-day players and the two two-way players (David Duke Jr. and Kessler Edwards) bring the roster to 19 players.
- What to watch for in Kyrie Irving’s season debut Wednesday - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- ‘It’s going to be a challenge’ for Nets with Kyrie Irving in/out of lineup - Barbara Barker - Newsday