The Nets may get their first real look at Kyrie Irving in their preseason game against the Raptors on Friday. Irving, who re-aggravated a facial fracture in the first minute of the Nets’ first game in China against the Lakers, is expected to return in the preseason finale against Toronto.
Irving initially suffered the facial injury in a pickup game Sept. 24 and wore a protective mask in his brief appearance in Shanghai.
Head coach Kenny Atkinson said Irving received another X-ray, which revealed no surgery would be needed. “He’ll play Friday, we’ll see if it’s his normal minutes,” Atkinson said following practice Wednesday.
“Obviously, he’s missed some time so we’ll see about that.” The Nets won the Irving free-agency sweepstakes and have been anxiously awaiting a full-game performance from the 27-year-old point guard. Barring any more setbacks, they won’t have to wait much longer. Atkinson said he liked what he saw from Irving in practice Wednesday.
Joe Harris said it’ll be important not to force Irving back if he isn’t 100 percent. “You don’t ever want to force guys back or make them feel like they’re obligated to come back too soon.”
The Nets held an intra-squad scrimmage Wednesday, specifically to give Irving “some more up-and-down work.” Atkinson said the scrimmage was important to ease Irving back into things ahead of Friday’s preseason game.
When DeAndre Jordan was signed in July, it wasn’t clear how he would be added to the center mix with Jarrett Allen coming off a strong 2018-19 season. It appears the Nets will look to give both centers opportunities.
“I think we’ll go game-to-game,” Atkinson said of how he plans to deploy his centers. “I think they both played well, both played really well defensively. Pleased with both. I think we’ll do it on a game-to-game basis.”