Kyrie Irving returned to the Brooklyn Nets lineup this weekend after a long absence. What does his return mean for the Toronto Raptors?
The Toronto Raptors aren't the only team that has suffered from injuries to their star players, even if the number of injuries seems excessively high compared to most teams. Even with the return of both Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam against the San Antonio Spurs, Nick Nurse is still without two key players in the rotation: Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol.
As they weren't the only team suffering from injuries, they also weren't the only team to get their star player back over the last few days. The Brooklyn Nets, who sit seventh in the Eastern Conference with a record of 18-20, finally saw Kyrie Irving return to the lineup against the Atlanta Hawks. Irving wasted no time in getting down to business, scoring 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field in just 19 minutes of action.
The Nets had a busy offseason, signing Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan, as well as a host of role players to the roster. Many thought they would be amongst the contenders in the East all year long, but so far their campaign has been largely underwhelming.
A lot of that is down to the fact that Irving has only featured in 12 games this season, and Durant won't see the court until the start of next season at the earliest, presumably. Not having your two best players on the court will hurt you to no end, especially when the depth of the roster is questionable.
Now, though, Irving is back in the fold for the Nets and things could potentially be looking up. For the Toronto Raptors, who are firmly in the thick of the playoff hunt, that might be a problem.
Or will it?
Let's break down how the East looks right now, to get us started.