Out for 12 games since he last played in Nov. 14's 101-93 loss to the Denver Nuggets, Kyrie Irving has missed almost the past month of the Brooklyn Nets' early 2019-20 season.
But as his right shoulder impingement recovery progresses, the star point guard is trending in the right direction.
While the Nets are likely to be without him on the court for the next week, head coach Kenny Atkinson provided a positive update on Irving, who could be back at practice within the next week or two.
"I think after the individual workout it's a contact piece," Atkinson said of Irving before Sunday's 105-102 win over the Nuggets. "But as far as the no-contact piece -- that's shooting, running, ballhandling, pretty much everything. It's that contact piece and, obviously, team practice. That simulates the most game-like contact situation."
Irving suffered his injury in Nov. 12's 119-114 loss to the Utah Jazz, but he played through the pain. It cost him the subsequent few weeks, but the Nets have adapted on the fly.
While Irving leads the Nets with 28.5 points, 7.2 assists and 5.4 rebounds in 33.8 minutes on average through 11 games, others have stepped up.
Backup guard and sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie, who tied a game-high 24 points and paced all players on the floor with eight assists, led the Nets (13-10) past the Nuggets (14-7) Sunday to cap the weekend.
"It says the guys that are still in this locker not only believe, but know that we can compete at a high level," said Dinwiddie, who has dropped 20 points or more in 10 of the past 12 games. "Coaching staff knows that, and as long as we play defense, like I said, on the court, as long as we hold people to around 100 points, we feel like we can score enough to win. And that's going to kind of be the hallmark of this group -- defense and that kind of scrappiness."
The Nets, who have won three straight games and are 9-3 since Irving was sidelined, host the Charlotte Hornets (9-16) Wednesday before going on the road against the Toronto Raptors (15-7) Saturday.