The Brooklyn Nets somehow enter Tuesday atop the Eastern Conference.
While they are not the only team to deal with COVID-related absences, the Nets have been hit especially hard.
The biggest absence for the Nets was losing Kevin Durant to the protocols.
He has not played since December 16 for a team that relies on him to be their star.
Good news has emerged Tuesday and it does not only have to do with Durant.
Nets' Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and LaMarcus Aldridge have cleared health and safety protocols.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 28, 2021
That is a cause for celebration in Brooklyn.
A Unique Journey Begins
Durant and Aldridge returning means business as usual for both veterans.
But Irving is the one on a unique path the rest of the season.
He can practice with the Nets, but is still not allowed to play in New York City.
Steve Nash says it will take Kyrie Irving a week or two to ramp up once he clears COVID protocols: pic.twitter.com/zESk9VdXst
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) December 27, 2021
The team is in the midst of a long stretch of home games, with the next road game coming January 5 against the Indiana Pacers.
The next one after that is January 12 against the Chicago Bulls.
So if Irving is all set to play, he will get sporadic action for several weeks until the Nets have a true road trip beginning January 17.
The key for Irving will be avoiding any close contacts given his unvaccinated status.
Given the way players are testing positive for COVID in the NBA, that will be no easy task.
Having Durant back at least gives Nets fans a consistent star who will be out there both at home and on the road.
He leads the NBA in scoring with 29.7 points per game and is carrying the Nets when healthy.
Nets fans still won’t get a consistent trio of Durant, Irving, and James Harden on a nightly basis.
But seeing all three together some point soon will be a nice treat for fans given how eventful this season has already been.