Kyrie is back.
This is wonderful news, because Kyrie is a lot of fun to watch on a basketball court. It's also encouraging, because the Cavaliers had no reason to bring him back into the lineup until he was 100% healthy, so we can probably assume that he is 100% healthy. It's also somewhat of a relief, because any knee issues should cause at least a little bit of consternation, at least until the injured player suits up and pushes it at game speed. It's also somewhat necessary, because Mo Williams is still a little nicked up, and Delly (though he's been awesome - more on him in a bit) is probably still best suited for a bench role. It's also fun, because watching Irving put the ball on a string and defenders on skates,and pirouetting through traffic for an impossible finish at the rim, and sniping from beyond the arc, and running a fastbreak with LeBron at his side, are some of the most aesthetically pleasing things in the NBA nowadays.
The Kyrie return is a lot of things, but most of all it's important, because now the Cavs can shift into lightspeed once again.
You probably know this stat, but I'll mention it one more time anyway: between January 15th and the end of last season, the Cavs went 29-3 when LeBron, Love, and Kyrie suited up together. When all three of them were on the floor, Cleveland outscored opponents by 17.3 points per 100 possessions over nearly 700 minutes.
This season, LeBron seems as spry and locked in as ever, Kevin Love looks more comfortable, Tristan Thompson has improved as a rim protector and still does all the little things right, Matthew Dellavedova is freaking good now (Oh, the crow, it tastes delicious), and Richard Jefferson is providing decent wing minutes off the bench at the veteran's minimum.
Add a healthy Iman Shumpert and Kyrie Irving to that mix, sprinkle in a little J.R. Smith being J.R. Smith, some Timofey Mozgov (and hopefully more than that, if he can get himself right), a dollop of heady veterans like Anderson Varejao, Mo Williams and James Jones, and even a dash of Jared Cunningham, and you've got the recipe for a juggernaut. They're conceivably better than they were down the stretch last season, a thought that should certainly terrify the rest of the Eastern Conference.
After tonight's home tilt with the Knicks, the Cavaliers play 10 of their next 13 on the road, beginning and ending with games against the Golden State Warriors. Maybe the timing of Kyrie's return is purely coincidental to the timing of the Cavs' meetings with Steph Curry and the Dubs, or maybe it isn't. But the fact is, the Cavs have all the important pieces back on the floor, with a year of playing with one another under their belts, the bitter taste of Finals defeat in their mouths, and the chance to replicate last year's insane run to finish the regular season.
It isn't as though the Cavs were bad without Kyrie. They weren't. But now, things are different; everyone is back, and they've got something to prove. As the fighter pilot tries to guide his crew back to the Finals, now is the moment when he can begin leaning on the accelerator. The ship can operate at maximum output. Kyrie is back on board, and the ride won't stop for awhile.