Kyrie Irving finally returned to the basketball court and he put in a dazzling performance that showed no signs of rustiness. He finished with 22 points to help the Brooklyn Nets bring an end to their mid-season slump and edge out the Indiana Pacers for a 129 – 121 road victory.
The key word from the previous paragraph is road victory as Irving still remains a part time player at the moment due to his refusal to get vaccinated against the Coronavirus amidst New York’s City vaccination mandate.
Irving can’t play at home because of New York City’s vaccination mandate and the Nets initially denied him the chance to only play on the road because the Nets didn’t want a part-time player so he missed the first 35 games of the Net’s season.
The Nets were later forced to reverse their hard stance due to a recent spike in Covid -19 cases in the squad and they decided having him half the time was a better option than signing inferior players to 10 day contracts.
Irving repaid the Nets decision with his performance on Wednesday where he started and played for 32 minutes and helped the Nets charge back from a 19 point deficit to grind out the win. He was 9-of- from the field, 4-of-4 from the free throw line, to go along with four assists, three rebounds and three steals to finish with 22 points.
The Nets were very poor in the first half as they were outscored 73-60 by the Indiana Pacers but it didn’t matter at the end as they pulled through by outscoring the Pacers 35-20 in the fourth quarter to seal victory.
When Irving, Harden and Durant all play, the Nets become a ridiculous monster that few teams around the league have any chance of stopping but the alarming fact is prior to Wednesday night’s game, the superstar trio had only played 14 games together for a total of 202 minutes.
With Irving presence on the floor, Durant and Harden (2nd and 4th in minutes per game) have more time to rest which helps to prevent injuries and they are more potent in attack but lingering issues still remain.
He will be missing the team’s next match against the Milwaukee Bucks in Brooklyn but will be available for the match against Portland on Monday night.
Since Irving is returning as a part time player it means the Brooklyn Nets have to prepare differently for home games (without Irving) and road games (with Irving). This situation will undoubtedly have a negative affect on the team chemistry.
Assuming all the mandates remain the same as they are at the moment he is only eligible to play for 21 more games this season.
While the Nets can feel confident of making the playoffs without Irving, the jury is still out on if they get to the NBA finals with Irving playing only road games. The Nets couldn’t win without Irving last season as they crumpled to the Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals after he sprained his ankle in Game 4.
Will Irving succumb to the pressure to take the vaccine if his team really needs him during the playoff or a key player gets injured. Whatever decision Irving decides to take when the time arrives, it is clear that we have not seen the end of the part time superstar road player Kyrie Irving saga.