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Nets coach Kenny Atkinson keeps Kyrie Irving's progress close to the vest

Kyrie Irving, right, chats with teammate Kevin Durant

Kyrie Irving, right, chats with teammate Kevin Durant on the Nets bench Tuesday night, Jan. 7, 2020. Irving could be on the verge of returning to playing status following a shoulder injury.   Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Kyrie Irving’s right shoulder impingement “responded well” following his first full five-on-five scrimmage Thursday, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said before facing the Heat on Friday night at Barclays Center. Irving is expected to go through another full practice session Saturday before the Nets begin a stretch of three games in four nights, starting with a date against the Hawks on Sunday at home.

Asked what he needs to see before he feels comfortable with Irving returning to game action, Atkinson said: “That’s just a work in progress and getting feedback. He’ll work again (Saturday), and then we’ll make our decision from there.

“It’s constant communication, but I can’t give you, ‘He needs three more workouts, he needs two.’ There’s a point where you communicate with the performance team and the medical team and Kyrie obviously, and you make a decision.

“I’m pleased with where we’re progressing right now … At this moment, in January and the kind of (seven-game losing) streak we’re on right now, it’s just good to have him around with the group, positive, smiling.”

In other injury-related news, forward Wilson Chandler (left hamstring tightness) and guard Garrett Temple (right knee contusion) were ruled out against the Heat. With forward Nic Claxton on a G League assignment with the Long Island Nets, the Nets had only 11 healthy bodies against the Heat. Atkinson said he expected even Justin Anderson, who signed a 10-day deal Monday, to see more extensive action, along with Rodions Kurucs, who moved into the starting lineup one game earlier, and Dzanan Musa, who figured to get much of the playing time normally allotted to Temple.

“They all have to play,” Atkinson said. “Throw Justin Anderson in there. He’ll be in the mix, too. It’s obvious we need the minutes, we need the bodies. Justin’s been good in the days he’s been with us. Obviously, he brings a physical presence that can perhaps help us. Definitely all those guys will get minutes.”

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