The worst kept secret in the NBA is now official: Kyrie Irving will make his season debut on Wednesday when the Nets face the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
The Nets did not list the guard their status report released on Tuesday afternoon indicating that Irving would be playing in Indiana. It is the first game Irving is eligible to play in since he returned from COVID protocol last week.
Head coach Steve Nash tried to temper expectations prior to Monday’s loss to Memphis by telling reporters that the Nets were “hopeful” that Irving would play, but that they hadn’t made any determination at that point. However, a promo for Wednesday’s YES Network broadcast of the game that was shown in Barclays Center prominently featured Irving in it.
“He loves to play. He loves being out there with his teammates, so can’t wait to see him out there,” Durant said on Monday about Irving’s return. “This our livelihoods. This is something we dream about every day. To go through this situation and then to get an opportunity to play right now, I know there’s a lot of emotions going through his head and as teammates, we have to be there to support him from the beginning of it.
“He’ll start to get his rhythm and start to figure out how he wants to play and we’ll go from there.”
Due to New York City’s vaccination mandate, Irving is unable to play in any home games this season. The Nets, however, will play 12 of their next 18 games on the road, Which Irving will be able to play in.
Brooklyn has a league-best 13-3 record away from the Barclays Center this season.
While Irving wasn’t listed on the Nets’ status report for Wednesday, Joe Harris still was.
The Nets sharpshooter is still weeks away from returning to the Nets lineup after undergoing surgery on his left ankle to remove a bone particle in late November. Harris severely sprained his ankle in the Nets mid-November matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I think settling with some of the irritation and then some of those high-intensity workouts or ramping up to that,” Nash said on Monday about Harris’ progress. “I’m not even sure that’s next in the cards. I think he’s still letting some irritation settle and then we’ll ramp up accordingly. I couldn’t put a timeline on it, but I do feel confident and this is something that’ll lose itself and we won’t look back.”