Kyrie Irving missed Saturday’s Brooklyn Nets victory over the Chicago Bulls with a shoulder impingement, but he doesn’t appear to have improved enough for a return.
After missing Monday night’s game versus the Indiana Pacers, the Nets announced that their star point guard would miss Wednesday’s game versus the Charlotte Hornets with that same injury, and while he isn’t projected to be out for too long, his continued absence is going to be a problem for Brooklyn.
The Nets lost Caris LeVert to a thumb injury last week.
Brooklyn is extremely dependent on just three players to create plays for them offensively.
The combination of Irving, LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie are responsible for over 49 percent of Brooklyn’s assists this campaing and over 48 percent of their points. Most of their other players serve highly specific roles offensively as shooters or rim-runners.
LeVert is projected to miss 4-6 weeks in his recovery, so with Irving out, the Nets are almost entirely reliant on Dinwiddie to make plays offensively. He came through with a big game on Saturday versus the Bulls, but Monday night, his 28 points weren’t enough to pull out a victory against the Pacers. Asking Dinwiddie to carry an entire team for any sort of extended period would be ill-advised.
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The league has a strong stake in Irving’s health as well. Irving is slated to make his return to Boston next Wednesday for the first time since leaving the Celtics in free agency.
All indications are that he should be back in time for that game barring a setback, which should be among the most-viewed games either team plays this regular season. But Irving has had trouble staying on the court for most of his career.
The Nets made an massive bet on the health of both he and Kevin Durant, giving both of them max contracts this offseason in the hopes that they would lead Brooklyn into contention. They had enough to worry about with Durant out for the season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon.
If Irving’s health proves unstable as well, Brooklyn’s long-term championship hopes are in serious jeopardy.