After not playing in Sunday's game against the Knicks following the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, Kyrie Irving is expected to play on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons, per Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.
"Yes, I expect him to play. I think we all understand that we have to focus on the task at hand and our jobs," Atkinson said on Wednesday. "Obviously, the message is we have to make up some ground here before the All-Star break, and it starts tonight at home against a team we battled with the other night.
"We've been in contact and we've talked, and I think it's hard for me to get into what, when, how, where, but yes, we've been communicating."
Atkinson had previously said that Irving was "tremendously affected" by Bryant's passing, explaining that the Nets star was "closer to Kobe than people realize."
Irving did practice with the team on Tuesday, but he didn't talk to reporters afterwards.
Atkinson said on Wednesday that getting back to the grind of practice was a good thing for Irving, though the six-time All-Star kept to himself more than usual.
"I think he just liked getting back to work (Tuesday)," Atkinson said. "That's what it seemed to me. Practiced really hard, practiced really well. He was into it and, you know, more quiet than usual."
It's impossible to be prepared for news like Sunday's, with Bryant and his daughter Gianna among nine people who lost their lives in a helicopter accident, but Atkinson believes the Nets have relied on each other to push through.
"We have a good group of guys and I think at times like this you get even closer. You stick together," Atkinson said. "I said that was the most important thing about working through this tragedy, that we were together. At practice, there was a good spirit (Tuesday), guys were, like I said, really seemed to bond more during situations like this."