Kyrie Irving returns to his starting role with the Brooklyn Nets after being sidelined for 26 consecutive games. On November 12th, Irving pushed through what he thought wasn’t a serious injury while playing the Utah Jazz. He suited up two days later against the Denver Nuggets. This injury proved to be no joke as Irving struggled to score effectively in these two contests, shooting a meager 36% on 50 shots. Kyrie sat the next game on November 16th against the Chicago Bulls and has been out ever since.
Irving showed no signs of rust in his return as he helped his team secure a 108-86 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. In only 20 minutes, Kyrie dropped 21 points and shot an almost perfect 10-for-11 from the field, going 1-1 from beyond the arc. The All-Star guard also grabbed four rebounds and dished out three assists. Some other noticeable performances that helped the Brooklyn in the huge victory were Jarret Allen, who finished with a 10 point and 12 rebound double-double, and Taurean Prince who scored 14 points, shooting 4-for-6 from three. This was an all team effort, having six players finish in double figures. This is a great sign for things to come, showing that Kyrie can not only provide the scoring that they need, but is excellent at getting his teammates involved in the game.
The Hawks were without the 2019 Rookie of The Year runner-up, Trae Young, who was kept out with a hamstring injury that occurred in Friday nights’ loss against the Washington Wizards. It is not certain how serious this injury is yet, but history proves that hamstring injuries tend to linger around. Young is currently averaging 28.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 8.4 assists on the season. Atlanta was also without some key role players like Jabari Parker, and Evan Turner. These missing pieces proved costly as the Hawks fall to 8-32.
The Nets are happy to have their best player back, as they have been struggling lately, going 1-4 in January before this win. The Nets have been just about average, going 13-13 in Kyrie’s absence. Irving’s return gives the Nets back some dynamic scoring and playmaking ability while also relieving the load off of back up guard, Spencer Dinwiddie, who has had to put the Nets on his back night in and night out. Dinwiddie can now return to his bench role where he plays at a more efficient pace.
Brooklyn currently holds the last seed in the Eastern Conference, which is cluttered towards the bottom of the bracket. With former MVP, Kevin Durant, out for the season, Brooklyn looks to their leader, Kyrie Irving, and other role players to help fight for a solidified playoff spot. The Nets look to start stringing together some wins as they host the Jazz at the Barclays Center on Tuesday, January 14th.
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