Kyrie Irving has returned. His return came less than 24 hours after he spoke the words, I’m back!” Those were the words that all-star guard Kyrie Irving wrote to his Twitter followers not too long ago.
— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) December 19, 2015
Irving’s return from a terrible broken kneecap injury comes at a great time for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers are now a team that ESPN columnist Brian Windhorst declares almost whole. Despite some early struggles, it did not take long for Kyrie Irving to get back into a groove, the point guard scored 12 points and handed out four assists in his return. The result of his first game back with the Cavaliers was a 108-86 win over a lowly Philadelphia 76ers.
It will take a little while for Kyrie Irving to get his legs back. There are a few other challenges that he will face, most notably, getting to know a few of his teammates and some of their tendencies. Has the point guard it is imperative that he gets comfortable once again.
What is waiting for Irving is a Cleveland Cavaliers team who wants to begin a stretch of playing great basketball. The Cavs missed their star guard.
First, they will play the Carmelo Anthony-led New York Knicks team on Wednesday. The Knicks are improved from a season ago. Anthony has some help with the emergence of rookie Kristaps Porzingis and Arron Afflalo adding some scoring and toughness.
— NBA (@NBA) December 21, 2015
Cleveland will then have Christmas Eve to recuperate and travel to Oakland where the defending champion, the Golden State Warriors, are waiting to prove that their NBA Finals win was not a fluke. It is the showdown that NBA fans have been waiting for ever since the schedule was announced. This time, things will be different because Kyrie Irving missed all but Game 1, when the freakish injury (courtesy of the New York Times) occurred. He is certainly looking forward to facing the Warriors at the scene of the injury.
Kyrie Irving’s return catches fans by surprise. He is somewhat ahead of schedule.
Yahoo Sports originally reported that Irving would be out of the Cavaliers lineup until January. His return before the turn of the calendar year is a good Christmas present for Cleveland. Getting back Kyrie Irving is akin landing a prime free agent or making a blockbuster trade. Irving’s return has put the Eastern Conference on notice. Even if he is not 100 percent, 80 percent of Kyrie Irving is better than two-thirds of the point guards in the NBA.
Teams such as the Bulls and Pacers may have to make a trade in order to compete. The Bulls are one of the teams who have been linked to Sacramento Kings’ center DeMarcus Cousins, who for now is “off the table” according to a Pro Basketball Talk report. Might Kyrie Irving’s return force their hand to make a deal?
A team like Miami might consider inquiring about center Dwight Howard. They have a young post player in Hassan Whiteside who will become a restricted free agent at season’s end. They may wind up doing something to boost their chances.
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) December 20, 2015
If neither of the Eastern Conference contenders do anything to improve their teams, the road to the NBA Finals might become a cakewalk.
Kyrie Irving’s return comes at a great time. There is a highlight game against the Golden State Warriors on the horizon, which Irving will have time to get some practices in. He must get to know his teammates a little bit, typically get reacquainted with LeBron James and Kevin Love. Kyrie Irving’s return came earlier than expected and will shape the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. It is now set up for the Cleveland Cavaliers to lose, unless their rivals make some changes that could tip the scales back a little bit. The NBA landscape has some excitement now that Kyrie Irving is back.
[Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images Sport]