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Nets' Kyrie Irving expected to make season debut Wednesday vs. Pacers

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Nets' Kyrie Irving expected to make season debut Wednesday vs. Pacers
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (L), who hasn't played this season due to his unvaccinated status, is expected to compete in road games for the remainder of the 2021-22 season. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is expected to make his 2021-22 NBA season debut against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Sources told ESPN, The Athletic and the New York Post on Monday about Irving's expected return to the court. The point guard's hiatus was tied to his unvaccinated status.

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He was away from the team at the start of the season due to local laws, which didn't allow him to practice with teammates or to play games in New York City.

The Nets initially said that Irving also could not participate in road games, but welcomed him back last month as a part-time player. That move came amid a surge in positive COVID-19 cases throughout the NBA, which led to hundreds of players entering the league's protocol.

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The Nets had three games postponed as a result of the surge in positive cases. Several star players, including Kevin Durant, left the lineup due to placement in the protocol.

"Hopefully he's gonna be with us in Indiana," Nets center Nic Claxton told reporters Monday, when asked about Irving. "So, we're looking forward to having him back."

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Irving cleared the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols Tuesday. The seven-time All-Star averaged 26.9 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game in 54 appearances last season.

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The Nets (23-11) host the Memphis Grizzlies (23-14) at 7:30 p.m. EST Monday at Barclays Center. They face the Pacers at 7:30 p.m. EST Wednesday in Indianapolis.

Irving remains unavailable for Nets home games until he becomes vaccinated, but can appear in select road games based on the respective COVID-19 requirements within the opponents' cities.

"I may be a little naive, but I think just keep it really simple," Nets coach Steve Nash told reporters last week at a news conference.

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"Kyrie plays on the road, and we figure out how he rejoins the group, "And when we come home, we're back to normal, the way we've been all year."

Thirteen 13 away games remain on the Nets' regular-season schedule. The Nets are just one game behind the Chicago Bulls in the NBA's Eastern Conference.

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