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Kyrie Irving injury update: Nets star not cleared yet for contact work; begins on-court exercises

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The Nets have gone 6-2 since Kyrie Irving has been sidelined with a right shoulder impingement. They've fared well without their star point guard, who is set to miss his ninth consecutive game when Brooklyn takes on the Miami Heat on Sunday. While they would love to have him back in the starting lineup, he's not quite ready to return just yet.

After missing the Nets' most recent road trip — including a game against Irving's previous team, the Boston Celtics — head coach Kenny Atkinson said that Irving still isn't doing any on-court contact work. However, Irving has started some on-court exercises.

Other players on the Nets roster have stepped up in Irving's absence, namely Spencer Dinwiddie, who has been averaging 24.5 points in the eight games Irving has been out. However, with Caris LeVert out as well, though, the performances by the rest of the Nets' players are likely unsustainable. Brooklyn relies extremely heavily on three ballhandlers in Irving, LeVert and Dinwiddie to generate the offense, and two of them are out at the moment. A string of games against likely lottery teams has kept them afloat, but they will need Irving back soon if they plan to seriously contend for a playoff spot.

Irving unceremoniously left Boston for Brooklyn in free agency, after publicly indicating that he planned to re-sign with the Celtics for the long haul prior to the 2018-19 season. Irving and the Celtics endured a season marred by strained chemistry and failing to live up to the high expectations placed on the team. He eventually reneged on his pledge and joined the Nets.

In the 11 games Irving has played for the Nets this season, he's averaged a career-high 28.5 points a night, including a 50-point performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves to open the season. Despite Irving's production, though, the Nets went 4-7 over the 11 games he's played this season. While the Nets have performed well in Irving's absence, the longer the All-Star guard is out, the harder it will be for him to build on-court chemistry this season.

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