All eyes were on Brooklyn Nets All-Star Kyrie Irving on Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers. Irving missed the Nets’ first 35 games due to him being sidelined until he agreed to get at least the first dose of the COVID vaccine. The Nets got down early allowing the Pacers to register 73 points in the first half. This came after allowing the Los Angeles Clippers to score 71 points in the second half in their matchup last week. But Irving showed why having some of him, is better than having none of him, as he was one of the catalysts of a 31-16 run in the Nets 19-point comeback against the Pacers in his return.
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Kyrie Believes Nets Can Win Title, Desipite Tough Situation
For most of the game, the Pacers had the Nets on the ropes. But 10 of Irving’s 22 points came in the 4th quarter as he, Durant, and James Harden combined for 79 points in the win. The Nets showed just how dangerous they can be in just the blink of an eye. However, questions remain on just how legit they can be with a part-time Kyrie. Irving believes that they can be one of the top contenders for the NBA title, despite his availability being limited.
“We have a goal at the end of the season that we want to accomplish and we want to be one of those teams that’s playing for a championship trophy and we know what it takes. This situation is not ideal that we’re in but we’re going to battle through it and we’re going to do everything we can to stay together,” Irving told reporters after the game per Forbes.
Durant, Harden Sound Off on Kyrie’s Return
The 7-time All-Star’s return was welcomed by both his teammates and coaches. After missing the first 35 games of the season, Irving didn’t miss a step in his return. Getting him back was a major hurdle to overcome. But as they have done all season, the Nets conquered another obstacle. The next step is to have Irving available full-time. Whether that will happen remains to be seen. For now, his teammates are just glad to have him back.
“It was amazing to him have out there,” Durant said of Irving’s return per NetsDaily. “I mean, I just missed his presence around locker room — his energy, his vibe around the team — and then on top of that, his game is just so beautiful. It makes the game so much easier for everybody out there. It was amazing to see him out on the floor again. The crowd showed so much love. Teammates. The game of basketball is just so happy to have him back.”
“Special,” added James Harden of Irving. “It looks like he’s been playing all season. He looks comfortable as usual. His space, his rhythm. Looked like Kyrie. Definitely felt good to have him on the court — our energy and spirit is better. It just felt really, really good.”
Even more important than Irving’s return was the fact that the Nets were able to snap a three-game losing streak, their longest of the season. Things won’t get any easier for Brooklyn as they will be without Irving in their next game on Friday against the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.