Kyrie Irving is expected to make her seasonal debut Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers, but can the return of the seven-time All Star help the Brooklyn Nets win an NBA championship?
Irving, who is not vaccinated against Covid-19, returned part-time to the Nets, after the team – grappling with coronavirus cases and injuries – backtracked on their original stance that they would not submit until. could have played in all games.
Unable to take part in home games due to New York’s Covid-19 vaccine mandates, the 29-year-old is expected to compete in most road races, except against the New York Knicks and also the Toronto Raptors, due to regulations. of Ontario.
The Nets, led by Kevin Durant and James Harden, maintained an impressive 23-12 record without Irving finishing second in the Eastern Conference.
Sky Sports Mo Mooncey of Heatcheck believes Irving’s return will catapult the Nets into the fight for the championship.
“They held the ship together without Kyrie Irving,” Mooncey said. “But keep in mind that Kevin Durant came out of the Achilles operation and then played the Olympics, Kyrie’s return will give him a little more time on the bench, a little more rest, a little less pressure.
“For James Harden, he has struggled to get into the season, has resumed his form recently, but now, adding Kyrie Irving, he will stop defenses focusing on Harden when KD is resting and bewildering those lineups.
“So I like what I see. I think it’s not only good for Kyrie to get back on the pitch, but it will help her teammates.”
Mooncey believes Irving’s return could have a similar impact to Kawhi Leonard’s during his only season with the Toronto Raptors, who won a championship despite the striker losing a significant amount of games due to load management reasons.
“It reminds me a little bit, it’s not the same situation, but when Kawhi Leonard was with the Toronto Raptors and was doing his load management. He still fit in well every time he’s back in lineup, and a Kyrie-caliber player and talent, I think he will make the game easier for his teammates.
“It will be a show, it will be a must see, Kyrie Irving is back on the basketball court, I didn’t think it would happen this season, but I can’t wait.”
However, three-time NBA champion Armstrong is less convinced and believes that the fact that Irving will not be able to spend time with his team in New York could negatively affect their cohesion.
“This part-time move, because that’s basically what it is, will be very difficult to implement,” Armstrong said.
“It will be tough because they still have to play at home and that would mean Kyrie won’t be there at home.
“I’m happy he’s back, I’m happy he’s playing, but I really think it’s going to be hard for him to have the kind of impact we expect when it comes to Brooklyn Nets.
“Right now for the Nets, it’s league or elimination, and I don’t think playing every other game, or just away games, will be enough to push this team to the top.”
“The networks may not want an advantage at home”
Mooncey also hinted that the situation could make the Nets more comfortable in losing the home advantage in the playoffs.
The seven-game playoff series format would mean Irving would be available in more games – four instead of three – if the Nets were the lowest-scoring team.
“What we could see from the Brooklyn Nets is a unique situation,” said Mooncey. “It could be the first time ever that a team doesn’t want home when it comes to play-offs.
“In the modern NBA, I don’t think home court is as profitable as it once was.
“I’d rather be traveling with Kyrie Irving than at home without Kyrie Irving.
“You want to have him out there for game 7, he shows up in game seven, that’s what he does.”