Kyrie Irving banished the devil last season with the big game for the Nets

MILWAUKEE – The last time Kyrie Irving was at Fiserv Forum, he limped off the field with the Nets’ GM and the team doctor with an injured ankle that ended his playoffs. And basically Brooklyn’s title race.

In the Saturday back? He strode into the waiting arms of his father Drederick, who held him tightly in an embrace equal in victory and physicality. The Nets ‘126-123 wins – and how Irving got them to it – not just a game. It was a purge.

“Yes, I was really emotional preparing for this match just because of what you just said,” Irving said. “I haven’t been back to this building since, and I try my best not to let my emotions get on my face or on my shoulders, but sometimes they do the best for me.

“But it certainly feels like there’s a weight lifted coming back here, healthy, winning and knowing there’s a chance we could see them down the road again. So it makes our competition in our league much more interesting. “

Nets’ haven’t had much fun lately.

They are leading 5-14 since star Kevin Durant suffered an MCL injury on January 15.

Last season, injuries also short-circuited their campaign, when Irving kicked Giannis Antetokounmpo in the foot in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals they appeared to have controlled. But they lost control when they let Irving suffer a severe ankle sprain, hobbling off the floor with GM Sean Marks and Dr. Riley Williams, Nets Medical Director and Orthopedic Surgeon.

Kyrie Irving, who scored 38 points, drives Wesley Matthews in the Nets' 126-123 win over the Bucks.
Kyrie Irving, who scored 38 points, drives Wesley Matthews in the Nets’ 126-123 win over the Bucks.

But Saturday is a completely different scene. This time – with Durant eliminated, and James Harden changed to Philadelphia – it was Irving who led today.

“When you watch Kyrie, it feels like he’s in a video game,” said Goran Dragic, who played with Irving for the first time on Saturday. “It’s crazy how he moves and how he does those tough shots.”

Irving had a season-high 38 points, five assists and five rebounds. And he took over when he had to, with his Nets leading 110-103 with seven minutes left. He got a dozen points in a 23-13 run to close the game and claim the win.

“Kyrie is amazing. The shots were amazing and brought in a big chunk of our offense and allowed the others more space to breathe,” said coach Steve Nash. “He improves the whole team with his presence and his ability to shoot the ball as well as his creativity.”

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving

But they won’t have that for at least a while.

Irving powered a starving Nets team, and despair is the mother of victory. They dropped 13 out of 15, and don’t expect Kevin Durant to return until at least next weekend.

The Nets were 3 ½ games behind the 6th Boston team to take the final playoff spot. They crawled into the game against No.7 Toronto, with a massive home game against the Raptors coming up Monday and Tuesday. They know that a few bad days can push them deeper into the game.

And now they won’t have Irving for either of those two Raptors games, because of his unvaccinated status. But with New York mayor Eric Adams’ recent comments in anticipation of an easing of vaccine regulations, one could expect to see a show like this at the Barclays Center for the first time all season.

“I’m watching as much as you guys, so be patient and just see where things end up in the next week or so or two. I’m not sure, but I know as much as you do,” Irving said. “The circumstances this season have not been ideal, but I’m glad things are settling down and there’s light at the end of the tunnel here and hopefully I can get back home playing at Barclays.” Kyrie Irving banished the devil last season with the big game for the Nets


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