UPDATE: As if there was any question, Irving will be in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s game vs. the Cavaliers.
Brooklyn Nets PG Kyrie Irving is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday night vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers, coach Steve Nash told reporters on Tuesday. Irving has missed the past five games, partly due to personal reasons and then because he was placed in health protocols by the NBA. Irving violated the League’s health and safety protocols and was forced to quarantine. He returned to team activities on Saturday and ramped things up on Monday in anticipation of a return to the lineup.
A lot happened while Irving was in quarantine. James Harden was acquired from the Houston Rockets in a four-team trade. The Nets no longer have Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen or Taurean Prince on the roster. As a result, the Nets lack some depth but that hasn’t really mattered the past two games. Harden and Kevin Durant have looked stellar in two victories, including a last-second win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday in which KD drained the game-winner off a feed from Harden.
With Irving back, we should see Jeff Green head back to the bench. Brooklyn would start Irving and Harden in the back court with Joe Harris at SF, KD at PF and DeAndre Jordan at center. The other scenario is Green stays in at PF and Harris heads to the bench. We’ll see which lineup Nash goes with on Wednesday.
Many are concerned that Irving won’t be able to co-exist with Harden and KD. That’s probably not going to be the case. Harden and KD clearly have chemistry and Irving is too good for this not to work out. The 3 on the court at the same time is going to be a nightmare for defenses. It could create some liabilities on defense for the Nets, but that shouldn’t matter in the long run. Irving’s conditioning should be OK, so I’d imagine he plays close to a full workload. If not, Harden and Durant should be able to pick up the slack.