The Brooklyn Nets came into Thursday night’s matchup against the Indiana Pacers with pressure resting squarely upon their shoulders. Not only because of the season debut of their All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, but the team was also trying to avoid going on a 4-game losing streak, which would have equaled their longest losing streak from last season. For a while, it looked grim for the Nets. They allowed 71 first-half points to a 24-loss Pacers team and trailed by as many as 19 points in the contest. The Nets, however, showed just how much firepower they have as a team. They fought back to take the lead midway through the 4th quarter and never looked back as they secured a 129-121 victory to snap their 3-game losing streak.
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Kyrie Irving: Nets Season Debut Meant ‘a Little More’
Though the game was not nationally televised all eyes were on Kyrie and his return to the Nets on Thursday night. The Nets came into this season looking to avenge themselves from a bitter Game 7 loss to the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals matchup. But they knew that for them to have any chance of securing the franchise’s first NBA title, they were going to need Kyrie back.
After several months of speculation on if Irving would ever play this season or perhaps even be traded, the 7-time All-Star finally took the court 35 games into the season. Kyrie has experienced many debuts in his career, but he says that this one is more sentimental.
“I’ve had a lot of debuts but nothing comes close to this one. It just meant a little bit more. Just because at this stage, you know taking off 8 months…. so, I went in just an open mindset just to ground myself, be present, and do whatever it takes to win,” Kyrie told reporters after the Nets win over the Pacers per SNY.
“Just a lot of gratitude just to be present tonight with everyone. Just go out there and have fun doing what we love to do”
Steve Nash Happy With What He Saw From Kyrie in Debut
Irving did not play for the Nets during the preseason either, so his last glimpse of real NBA action was in May during last year’s playoff matchup with the Bucks. That is over seven months of idle time and with that long of a layoff, rust is to be expected.
Irving struggled out of the gate to start the game, going scoreless in the 1st quarter. But he finished with 22 points in the contest and hit several clutch buckets in the 4th quarter when his team needed it the most. Nets head coach Steve Nash was pleasantly surprised with Irving’s play in his debut.
“Good. He looks like himself. Not a big surprise watching him play in practice. He’s so gifted, talented and you can see the rhythm was there but there’s still an adaptation,” Nash said of Irving’s debut per NetsDaily. “We got to give him some space here as he transitions back to playing. Tonight, he was big.”
The Nets avoided a 4-game losing streak and a lot of that is thanks to Kyrie. But the allure of Irving’s return will be short-lived as he will not be available for Brooklyn’s next game at home against the defending champion Bucks.