The Brooklyn Nets are finally getting one of their stars back.
Point guard Kyrie Irving, who missed the last 26 games with a shoulder injury, is expected to return for Sunday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks (6 p.m. ET) according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Irving returned to full practice on Thursday, suggesting that he passed each test with flying colors to prompt the Nets into putting him back in the lineup.
As recently as last week, shoulder surgery was still considered an option to help Irving properly recover. It would have likely ended his season — a disastrous start to his four-year, $136.4 million contract.
Irving was administered cortisone shots instead in an attempt to initially avoid surgery
His re-introduction couldn’t come at a much better time for a Nets team that has lost eight of their last 10, including a seven-game losing skid that was snapped on Friday night in Brooklyn with a 117-113 victory over the Miami Heat.
The Nets went 11-5 in their first 16 games without Irving before their slump evened their record to 13-13 during his absence.
In the 11 games he managed to play in this season, Irving averaged 28.5 points per game that featured a 50-point showing in his Nets debut on opening night. However, the Nets were just 4-7 when he was in the lineup.