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Will Nets' Kyrie Irving be healthy enough to face Celtics next week in his return to Boston?

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Nets looks on

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Nets looks on during the fourth quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

When the NBA schedule came out, one of the dates many fans circled on their calendars was Wednesday, Nov. 27, which marked the first trip back to Boston for Kyrie Irving since leaving the Celtics to sign with the Nets as a free agent last summer. But Irving missed his fourth straight game with a right shoulder impingement against the Kings Friday night at Barclays Center, and there is virtually no time for Irving to practice before heading to Boston if his condition improves.

The Nets are scheduled for a recovery day rather than practice on Saturday, then play back-to-back Sunday at the Knicks and Monday in Cleveland, where Irving played before being traded to the Celtics two years ago. There is no practice on Tuesday, and then the Nets play home and home with the Celtics Wednesday and Nov. 29.

Asked if Irving has an incentive to get back in time for Boston, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said, “I’ll just say there’s no update and no timetable. I think he’s concerned about one thing — getting back to being as close to 100 percent as possible. It’s as simple as that.”

When it was noted that Atkinson previously suggested Irving would have to practice before playing and the schedule appears to work against that, the coach clarified the approach the Nets might take if Irving’s condition improves.

“I wouldn’t say ‘have to,’” Atkinson said of the need to take part in a full practice. “We’d like to see some evidence, not just with Kyrie. That’s with Spencer [Dinwiddie], that’s with anybody. We definitely don’t want to throw him out there without observing where he is.

“But luckily with the staff we have — our whole staff is ex-players — we can create a practice on an off day. We obviously have the facilities and we have the personnel to be able to evaluate in a three-on-three or a four-on-four if we have to.”

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