The Nets will be reunited with their All-Star guard on Monday, just in time for the final two legs of a three-game streak against the three worst teams in the NBA. After narrowly squeezing the Pistons in Irving’s third straight game missed for personal reasons, the Nets are at home Monday against the Timberwolves and Wednesday against the Rockets.
“Kyrie is available,” coach Steve Nash said in his post-practice situation report on Sunday, “I’m so excited to see him again, and everyone has yet to be watched. We will see how it goes, but for [Monday] it’s just Kyrie.
Irving’s return is expected to lighten some of the load on MVP candidate James Harden, who is battling neck pain and a “bumped knee.” Harden also missed a game last week, but was forced to take 30 shots, score 44 points and play 42 minutes on his return against the Pistons.
With Kevin Durant still out, the Nets used a “Big Two” from Harden and newcomer Blake Griffin. Irving restores a temporary “Big Three” nature, but without the Alpha Durant for at least a week.
“A key guy for us,” forward Bruce Brown said of Irving. “One of our leaders, one of our brothers. Being back with us is huge for us. The way he plays the game makes things easier for everyone on the pitch. ”
Landry Shamet (sprained right ankle) will not play against the Timberwolves.
“I think Landry needs a little time,” Nash said. “It won’t be a long term thing.”
In case you thought Harden’s “I think I’m the MVP” statement after Friday’s game could be seen as selfish in the locker room, it isn’t. No surprise when he leads the NBA in assists.
“He literally does everything for us,” Brown said. “He’s our captain at both ends of the floor. I know he doesn’t get a lot of kudos for his defensive play, but he definitely gets up when he needs to. He makes me sound like a great player, so I give him kudos for that.