Nets’ Kyrie Irving Set For Season Debut Wednesday

NBA Rumors: Nets’ Kyrie Irving Set For Season Debut Wednesday

The Brooklyn Nets have been the NBA championship betting favorites on the NBA odds pretty much this entire season despite not having their Big 3 together in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. That will change on Wednesday, though, as Irving is expected to make his season debut at the Indiana Pacers.

Kyrie prepares to make NBA season debut with Nets.

Irving missed the first 35 games of the season due to his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. In New York, all adults over age 12 must show proof of vaccination in order to attend indoor entertainment events. Thus, Irving wasn’t allowed to play home games in Brooklyn. The Nets opted against letting Irving play on the road at first but then changed their mind.

Nets general manager Sean Marks said on Dec. 18 that the team was open to bringing Irving back as a part-time player. At the time, Brooklyn had 10 players in the COVID-19 protocol. Irving has spent the past couple of weeks getting into game shape. He also would not be allowed to play games at the Knicks, Toronto Raptors or Golden State Warriors because of COVID mandates.

“I’m glad that we were able to reach a decision together,” Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai said about Irving returning as a part-time player. “I’m excited to see him bring his artistry back to the court.”

In 74 games over the last two seasons, Irving averaged 27.0 points, 6.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game. The All-Star will be the NBA’s first part-time player since 1962, when Chicago Zephyrs rookie Terry Dischinger balanced basketball and getting his degree.

Dischinger — an All-American out of Purdue and a 1960 Olympic gold medalist — had one condition on playing his rookie season: The Zephyrs had to let him complete his chemical engineering degree at Purdue. He would end up winning NBA Rookie of the Year, playing in 57 of Chicago’s 80 games.

“During my rookie year I wanted to obtain my chemical engineering degree from Purdue, so Chicago let me attend school and play on weekends and holidays.” Dischinger recalled. “One time after class I left Purdue at 4 PM, taped my ankles in a cab and played that night in San Francisco. It wasn’t that tough of a year because I received my degree, the rookie of the year award, and was paid to play the game I loved.”

The Nets’ season-worst losing skid reached three straight after a 118-104 defeat at the hands of Memphis on Monday. Brooklyn got battered on the boards, beaten wire-to-wire and thoroughly embarrassed at home.  The Nets trailed by 28 and never truly challenged. They fell to 23-12, two games behind the Bulls in the East.

Harden said Irving’s return won’t solve Brooklyn’s recent woes: “It definitely gives us a spark. Something that we’re going to need in a three-game skid right now. “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.”

After some schedule adjustments, Irving will now be able to play 12 of the Nets next 18 games. It’s not clear if the Nets will have LaMarcus Aldridge on Wednesday as he missed Monday’s loss with a foot injury. Aldridge has averaged 13.7 ppg (.558 FG), 5.9 rpg and 1.1 bpg in 23.6 mpg. Brooklyn is 15-5 when LA scores in double digits (5-1 when he scores 20+ points). Aldridge is shooting .563 (71-of-126) from midrange. He’s third in the league in midrange FG % and is tied for seventh in midrange FGM.

Brooklyn also remains without starting shooting guard Joe Harris (left ankle surgery), and he is still a few weeks away from getting back to the court. He’s one of the NBA’s top three-point shooters.

The Nets have won five straight vs. the Pacers, who have a handful of key players in protocols. The teams have met once this season, a 105-98 Brooklyn home win Oct. 29. Aldridge scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, reaching 20,000 for his career. Harden had 29 points and Durant 22.


 

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