It’s almost that time Hours of fear.

The Nets announced on Dec. 17 that they would allow All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to return to the team as a half-time player (only playing away games) amid all the roster absences due to health and safety protocols. league security.

Irving himself immediately entered the league’s health and safety protocols following that announcement, but approved the protocols on December 28.

MORE: When will Kyrie Irving make his Nets debut?

Irving returned to the practice court on December 29, marking his first time with the team since a trip to San Diego during the preseason.

Just before his return, All-Star point guard James Harden sat down with ESPN’s Malika Andrews to discuss a number of topics, including what to expect when Irving returns.

“I know what it will be like when Kyrie comes back.” Harden told Andrews. “It’s going to be elite. Like you have three of the best at it.

“Obviously, we want him full time, but we’ll figure it out later. Just to have him around, his spirit, his energy. Obviously his skill set, his talent.”

Despite trading 13 games for Harden on the season last year, the Nets have only seen their Big Three of Harden, Durant and Irving play together in eight regular-season games. The trio played in all five games against the Celtics in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs and it was terrifying to watch as they averaged 85.2 combined points per game while shooting 53.1 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from range. of 3 points. . That only lasted for a while before Harden fell through injury in Game 1 of the Conference Semifinals against the Bucks, followed by Irving through injury in Game 4 before Harden returned in Game 5.

MORE: Where did Durant, Harden fall in the top 30 players in the NBA?

That leaves the trio of superstars with a grand total of 13 games played together (14 if you count the 43 seconds Harden played in ECSF Game 1), giving them a 10-3 record in those contests.

However, with Irving’s return to practice, we are getting closer and closer to seeing the three Nets stars on the court together once more.

“I could barely sleep last night,” Irving said after his first practice. according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post . “I’m like, man, I just don’t want to come out of the closet and not be who I know I am as a player … (My) heart races and just not be nervous and touch the basketball again, and just the rhythm of the game. . I missed it “.

He also mentioned his excitement about his first possible comeback game, which could come on January 5 when the Nets travel to Indiana to face the Pacers.

“I’m at peace with the raise, but I can’t sugarcoat it. I’m looking forward to that first game, whether it’s the fifth or sometime after,” Irving said. according to Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News.

Even without Irving, the Nets have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 23-9. They are slated to host a three-game home run before their showdown in Indiana on Jan. 5, but if Irving can’t go then he’s almost certainly ready to play in his next road game against the Bulls in Chicago at January. 12.