Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving was a lone star in Wednesday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers. As the Nets didn't anticipate having James Harden back and Kevin Durant got a night of rest after playing in the previous game, Irving made his return on Wednesday and played the Sixers for the first time this year.
In 33 minutes on the floor, Irving flashed his star power and collected 37 points on the Sixers' stellar defense as he shot 13-22 from the field. Unfortunately for Brooklyn, Irving's solo dominance wasn't nearly enough for them to secure a victory.
After the game, Irving wasn't disgruntled or making any excuses, though. The veteran All-Star understood his team was undermanned and knew that the Sixers were mostly healthy as players such as Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris were healthy.
Although the playing field wasn't even, Irving gave the Sixers their props as they picked up a 123-117 victory over the Nets, securing the top spot in the Eastern Conference once again and taking ownership of the tie-breaker over Brooklyn.
“They are who they say they are," Irving said after the game in regards to the Sixers. "[They were] picking up the pressure on the defensive end and playing a lot through Joel (Embiid) and making the right basketball plays. They play hard. They are who they say they are.”
Although the Sixers don't boast about being the top team in the East, it's clear they feel confident in their squad's ability to compete with the best. And while Brooklyn's best wasn't on the floor on Wednesday night, the Sixers still feel good about the victory, considering they can't control who they play.
The objective is to win games, and Philly did just that on Wednesday night. Both sides understand the circumstances weren't ideal, but neither organization is buying too much stock into the results of the matchup. The Sixers will gladly take the first seed, and the tie-breaker while Irving and the Nets issue props and move on.