The moment we thought would never come has finally arrived. On Wednesday night, Kyrie Irving will make her season debut with the Brooklyn Nets. After missing most of the first half of the season due to a vaccination mandate in New York that will prevent him from playing at home, the Nets have relented and will allow the unvaccinated Irving to be a player in time. partial as they pursue their first championship in franchise history. His return could not have come at a better time.
The Nets may still have the second-best Eastern Conference record at 23-12, but they have lost three straight games to give up first place to the Chicago Bulls. With the Milwaukee Bucks on their trail, the Nets need a shot in the arm as the middle of the season arrives. Irving provides it, along with the secondary ball handling and scoring they lacked. When he’s on the ground, the Nets can limit the minutes and tension of Kevin Durant and James Harden.
It was a team built for three top scorers, and on Wednesday we’ll see all three of them together for the first time this season. Here’s everything you need to know before Irving debuts.
- Dated: Wednesday January 5 | 7:30 p.m. ET
- Site: Gainbridge Arena – Indianapolis
- TV: Network YES | Direct: NBA League passes; fuboTV (try for free)
- Chances: Nets -8 | Above / Below: 225 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Indiana Pacers vs. Brooklyn Nets
Nets: What are you waiting for? That’s all about Irving. Eventually, you’d think Irving would return to his role as the starting and high-use playmaker for Brooklyn, but it’s unclear exactly how he’ll fit into the roster right away. “I don’t think that’s where he can play 38 [minutes]”, Nets coach Steve Nash noted after filming around Wednesday. “But I think he can play a lot of the game. He’s played a lot – he’s had three or four days in the field with the 5-on-5, so I think he’s capable of playing long. minutes, but not necessarily his usual 30s. “
The Nets have a difficult balance in front of them. Assuming Irving can only play road games this season, he only has about 20 games ahead of him to get in shape for the playoffs, and those games are spread over the remaining roughly three months. of the regular season. The Nets not only need to level him up, but also get his teammates used to playing with and without him. They’re not yet complete either, as Joe Harris remains out, so that’s another element the Nets will need to work on to get back in later in the season. Overall, that makes it a particularly difficult job as a coach for Nash. We know Irving will play. The real story will be how much and how it is used.
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Pacers: Well… someone has to play against the Nets in Irving’s debut. It’s probably no coincidence that Brooklyn picked the Pacers 14-24 as their first opponent. Indiana has the No. 21 ranked defense in the league and figures as a fairly easy launch opponent for the Nets as they adjust to their new roster. The Pacers probably don’t care too much about their patsy status, however. It has been clear for some time that they are on the verge of starting a rebuild.
Reports earlier in the season suggested Indiana is finally ready to consider breaking up center duo Myles Turner-Domantas Sabonis. Ex-Net Caris LeVert is also on the trading block, and with the sixth-worst NBA record, they won’t have far to go if they want to play for a top pick in the draft. Demonstration games for teams like this are rare, but everyone in the NBA is watching Irving speak tonight. This is a great opportunity for their players to sell themselves to the rest of the league before the February 10 trade deadline.
Of course, an eight-point line for a road team is a bit too much, but it’s all the Nets tonight. The last time we saw these three players on the field at once, the Nets were dominating the Boston Celtics in the playoffs last spring. Irving’s return, while only bringing limited individual value in his first game, is going to bring a burst of energy to the entire franchise. The Nets have three stars. The Pacers don’t. Don’t overthink it. The choice: Fillets -8