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NBA

Ben Simmons has his sights set on a Game 4 return, but will it be too late for the Nets?

As they head to Game 3 the Nets are not in great shape, but perhaps there is a reason to celebrate just around the corner.

Paul Rudder
Update:
Nets’ Ben Simmons has been cleared for contact

If there was ever a good time for the point guard to make his long awaited return and by extension debut, it would be right here and now.

Ben Simmons has hopes for Game 4

According to his comments on Friday, Ben Simmons is “very hopeful” that he will be able to make his highly anticipated Brooklyn Nets debut during their first-round series against the Boston Celtics. When asked how he thought he would do having not played since last June, the Australian point guard simply said, “We’ll find out.” To be clear Simmons has his mind set on playing in Game 4 at Barclays Center in New York on Monday and as was reported on Friday, he will do so assuming he has no unforeseen hindrances in his recovery from a back injury. Incidentally, the same was said in reports on Thursday. “it’s literally day-to-day, " Simmons said. Referring to their 2-0 deficit in the series, Simmons called it “a good challenge.” Indeed, he admitted that he’s looking forward to the opportunity. “...Especially playing with these guys. I think with me, my IQ’s so high, to play with guys like [Kyrie Irving] and Seth [Curry] and [Kevin Durant] - just watching them, I know how they play, I know how they want to play. And for me, to just get them in their spots and be a floor general, it’s exciting.

What’s Simmons status and where are the Nets at?

As was reported earlier this week, Simmons has played in 4-on-4 scrimmages and in fact admitted that he will participate in another session on Saturday after which he will “see how I feel.” Where the Nets are concerned, as mentioned before, they are down 2-0 in the series having lost both games in Boston. With game 3 coming up on Saturday, Brooklyn coach Steve Nash was asked if the star point guard would play. Nash simply laughed and said, “Ben tomorrow? I don’t think so. No.”

“I feel close,” Simmons said. “It’s not an easy injury to get back and move the same way straight away. But it’s a work in progress and I’m working every day to get back on the floor as soon as possible. You have an injury like this, your whole leg is affected,” Simmons said. “So it’s going to take time to loosen these muscles and get back on the floor. But it’s day-to-day, so it’s treatment every day.” Simmons went on to add that he’s since “fallen in love with doing Pilates,” while also confirming that future operations were not likely. “No, I think we’re in a good place right now where we’re not even thinking about that.”

Steve Nash and the Nets know where their focus should be

The Nets coach was quick to clarify where the focus of his team is at the moment saying the Nets are “not in here counting down the minutes till Ben’s back. It would be amazing to have him back and to incorporate him into our group on the floor,” Nash said. “And obviously we know he gives us size and speed and playmaking and rebounding, all those things that are helpful. But we’ll just have to see how he progresses.”

Brooklyn guard Patty Mills also had his say on the situation admitting that as a team they had already “been through some pretty crazy stuff this year.” When asked what role he imagined Simmons would play, Mills laughed and said, “We’ll see. I’ll see at the same time that you’ll see is what I’m guessing.” In addition Mills also conceded that it would be an intense baptism of fire in that Simmons would be joining the team in a critical moment against an extremely strong opponent, however, he was confident that his teammate would do well.

“His talent and his physicality, his basketball IQ, being able to handle the ball, being able to whip that thing around and find shooters, his physique on defense and being able to guard 1 through 5, how strong and long he is defensively - you can just imagine getting a stop or getting a defensive rebound and him out on the break,” Mills said. “I think there’s a lot that he can bring to the team that we probably don’t have at the moment. So him just being who he is, I think he has the opportunity to just slide in there.”

What’s Ben Simmons’ stance?

Clearly unbothered by the prospect of facing the Celtics with his team’s back against the wall, Simmons was confident. “I think it’ll be fine, personally,” he said. “There’s some things on defense where I look at it and I think I can make a big impact in terms of just being vocal on the floor and helping my teammates and being a leader on that side of the court. And then offensively, obviously I like to get out and push the ball. We have guys who want to run and shoot the ball a lot, so I’m looking forward to that aspect and playing with a team that wants to run.”

Simmons did admit, however, that its been difficult to sit and watch saying it’s “So frustrating,” before admitting that it has indeed been “tough.” “When you know you’ve had two good days, you don’t want to push yourself too much and have a setback or whatever it is,” he said. “And I’ve been aware of that. I’ve had this injury before. I’ve been aware of what I need to do and how to stay on top of it. There is “nothing easy,” Simmons said, as he considered the idea of going directly from rehab to a post season game in a do or die moment for his team. “But I feel comfortable stepping back on the floor and doing that.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” he said. “I gotta get on the floor and help this team win. I’ve been traded to the Brooklyn Nets and that’s what they need me to do. So that’s my focus right now.”

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