Due to his unvaccinated status, Irving is only able to play with his team during away games and never at home in the Barclays Center.
His first game back with the Nets was Wednesday night as the team took on the Indiana Pacers.
Irving’s first outing since June was filled with some promising signs and while he definitely has some rust to shake off, there is no doubt that Irving will once again be a strong force for the team.
The Old Brooklyn Is Back
Irving missed his first shot of the game and wasn’t showing much explosiveness in the first half of the game.
In fact, many people thought the only big story coming out of the game would be Lance Stephenson‘s wildly impressive night.
But Irving heated up in the second half of the game – right when Brooklyn needed him most.
Surprisingly, the Nets were down in a big way: they trailed by 17 points when Irving checked back in during the second half.
With the help of Irving, the team started to cut down the lead.
The star point guard scored five straight and some back-to-back points, helping the Nets take control of the game and erasing the lead Indiana once had.
— NBA (@NBA) January 6, 2022
In the end, Irving had a plus-16 rating, a high among Nets players.
He finished the night with 22 points, three rebounds, and four assists with a field-goal percentage of 52.9 percent in 32 minutes played.
“It was amazing to have him out there. I just missed his presence around the locker room, his energy, his vibe around the team. And then 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.”
While the team and fans were elated to see Irving again, one has to wonder if this honeymoon phase could have some rough patches ahead.
The biggest question mark about Irving’s return is how it’ll work when the squad is back at home in Brooklyn.
Remember, he can’t even attend the games until he is vaccinated.
Kyrie Irving had 22 points tonight in his first NBA game since early June. Ten of his 22 came in 4th Q in midst of Nets comeback win at Indy. Irving, ineligible to play at Barclays Center due to his vaccination status, will be able to take the floor next on Monday at Portland.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) January 6, 2022
His showing Wednesday night was very promising and needed but will his constant in and out status hurt the team chemistry and will it prohibit Irving from shaking off any rust he still has?
Consistency is key with any NBA team and it’s all but impossible right now for the Nets because Irving will only be with them when they’re away from home.
There is no doubt that the team will stay powerful and competitive – they have all season – but there will be certain home games that they will desperately miss the quickness and offensive output of Irving.
Rest assured that any home game the team loses will be blamed on the absence of Irving.
But that’s simply the way it has to be right now.