Kyrie Irving Credit: Bill Moore photo

As it relates to Kyrie Irving, whether the Nets play games at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn or on the road, with the exception of in Toronto versus the Raptors, is no longer an issue. New York City Mayor Eric Adams eased the city’s vaccine restrictions last week, allowing unvaccinated athletes and entertainers to work inside public venues. Canada still bans travelers that are unvaccinated from entering the country.

Irving made his home debut on Sunday, scoring 16 points and with 11 assists in a 119-110 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

“It was great to see him out there,” said Nets forward Kevin Durant after the game. “Good to see the fans excited for him.” Irving played his second game at home on Monday, dropping 28 points on 7-18 shooting in a 130-123 Nets’ win. Durant led the team with 41 points. Center Andre Drummond had another strong game with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The victory put the Nets at 40-36 and moved them to the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of the 39-37 No. 9 seed Hornets when the NBA’s schedule began last night. The Nets were 2.5 games behind the No. 7 seed Cleveland Cavaliers, who were 42-33. The Nets have six regular season games remaining, beginning tonight in Brooklyn against the Milwaukee Bucks.

When the regular season ends, the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th seeds in the East and Western Conferences start the postseason in the Play-In Tournament, which will match the 7th seed hosting the 8th seeded team in each conference and the 9th seed meeting the 8th seed on the road. The winner of the 7-8 pairing earns the 7th seed to open the playoffs.

The loser of the 7-8 game will host the winner of the 9-10 game. The winner of that game becomes the 8th seed and starts the postseason taking on the No.1 overall seed. If the current standings hold, which is unlikely given how unpredictable the final 10 days are shaping up to be, in the East, the Nets would be on the road to play the Cavaliers and the Hornets would face the No. 10 seed Atlanta Hawks in Charlotte.

The Nets are hoping that forward Ben Simmons, who was acquired in a trade last month that sent guard James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers, can join the lineup sometime over the next six games. The 25-year-old, three-time All-Star, who sat out the season in a dispute with the Sixers, is now experiencing back issues.

Before playing the Pistons on Tuesday, Nets head coach Steve Nash said there are no new updates on Simmons and the two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection has not had another MRI.

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