Wednesday marks two weeks since Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving made his belated 2021-22 debut. Ineligible to play in home games because of New York City's vaccine mandate, Irving rejoined the Nets as a part-time player after they initially opted against using him in the road games he is able to play.
Because Brooklyn has played as many home games as road games since Irving debuted Jan. 5 against the Indiana Pacers, he has seen action in just four games. Still, that has given us an early idea of what to expect from the Nets' unusual experiment.
After just two games with their three All-Stars together, Brooklyn is short-handed again with Kevin Durant suffering an MCL sprain that's expected to sideline him the next four to six weeks. That makes Irving's presence more important than ever, particularly as the Nets play a stretch of 10 out of 14 games on the road through Feb. 12.
Let's take a look at what we've seen from Irving in his return and what it means for Brooklyn's future, with the understanding he told reporters after Monday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers that his decision to forego the COVID-19 vaccine is "not going to be swayed just because of one thing in this NBA life."
Kyrie showing little rust in return
Any concern about whether Irving would be rusty after more than two months away from the Nets lasted about 12 minutes. Irving missed all three shots he took and had two turnovers in the first quarter against the Pacers. Since then, he has mostly looked like himself.