Nets

Irving’s Debut to Commence Plenty of Speculation

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After one of the craziest starts to a season in NBA history, the Brooklyn Nets have remained afloat atop the Eastern Conference.

With the Nets seemingly about to return to normalcy, Brooklyn is gearing up to throw perhaps the most chaotic element in the NBA back into the mix

Seven-time all-star Kyrie Irving will make his long-anticipated season debut against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. Brooklyn has been able to weather the storm marginally well despite Kyrie’s 35-game absence and an intense COVID outbreak. The Nets are currently sitting with the second seed in the Eastern Conference at 23-11. 

Success Sans Kyrie

The Nets’ success throughout their adversity is a great sign for fans of the team, but it must leave some wondering: how will the return of such a polarizing figure affect team chemistry? It’s a question that has plagued the presence of Irving throughout not only his Nets tenure, but for most of his career.

In his two years in Boston, many noted the Celtics went 37-19 in Kyrie’s 56 games missed. Even throughout his Nets career, the team has played noticeably well without him. Brooklyn has been specifically successful without Irving this season, much in part to the best supporting cast that the team has had in the past few years

A career-best season from Patty Mills, the clear improvement from Nicolas Claxton, the return of LaMarcus Aldridge and impressive rookie performances in big-time games are all factors in the Nets currently being on pace to finish with the best record in franchise history. Adding Irving into the mix could make this team virtually unstoppable, but only if a lot of things go right. 

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Questions That Yield Different Answers

Will Kyrie look rusty? Do other Nets suffer to sacrifice minutes to Irving? Is it inevitable that the media turn on Kyrie? If they do turn, how will the volatile Irving respond? Will the road-only approach stick throughout the season into the playoffs?  

That last one could prove specifically important to Brooklyn’s success. The Nets’ schedule shouldn’t affect much at this point of the season, but Brooklyn noticeably finishes the regular season with six of their last eight games at home. If the Nets find themselves in any form of seeding race, they’ll go through most of the final two weeks without Irving should the vaccine mandate remain the same.

Unsurprisingly, the return of Kyrie Irving has left Nets fans with more questions than ever about every aspect of the team. Needless to say, the eyes of the NBA world will be fixed on Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indiana this Wednesday night.

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