Kyrie Irving nearing return from shoulder injury, has started on-court work

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor

Kyrie Irving will miss a ninth straight game on Sunday when his Brooklyn Nets take on the Miami Heat, but the All-Star point guard is close to returning to game action.

On Friday, head coach Kenny Atkinson told the media, including SNY's Colin Martin, that Irving is making nice progress in his return from a right shoulder impingement, even joining the team for “on-court work.”

“First thing about Kyrie, he started on-court work, which is a real positive sign for us," Atkinson said. “He will be out for Miami. And then we'll see how it progresses. The fact that he started the on-court work is good news for us. Out for Miami and then we'll see going forward.”

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Irving has been out since the Nets' Nov. 14 loss to the Denver Nuggets. He was listed as questionable heading into the contest, and although he played through the end of the game, it has been enough to keep him out the last several weeks.

The 27-year-old may be closer than ever to playing, but the team still doesn’t have a timetable for his return.

Brooklyn stumbled out to a 4-7 start with Irving, but the good news is that the Nets have managed to win six of eight games without him. Guard Spencer Dinwiddie has been particularly effective in Irving's absence with 24.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in the last eight games.

That’s not to say that the Nets are better without Irving, but the team’s strong play without him makes it easier to ease him back into action. That sense of urgency may pick up soon though, as six of Brooklyn’s next seven games are against teams currently on pace to make the playoffs.

Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will miss Sunday's game but should return soon from a shoulder injury. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will miss Sunday's game but should return soon from a shoulder injury. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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