Talk about throwing yourself into the fire. Ben Simmons is reportedly planning to make his long-awaited return to an NBA court for Tuesday’s Game 4 of Brooklyn’s first-round playoff series against the Celtics.
Athletic’s Shams Charania reported overnight that Simmons would adapt ‘as long as rehab continues’ after EPSN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski earlier announced a Game 3 return n hadn’t been ruled out, but that the fourth game was more realistic.
The Nets have yet to officially confirm his status, but coach Steve Nash earlier this week said Simmons was cleared for contact in practice after steadily increasing his intensity in practice.
Brooklyn is already down 2-0 after narrowly losing in the series opener in Boston and will look to fight back in Game 3 at Barclays Center on Sunday. But if they lose that one, they’ll see the barrel of a sweep and an elimination.
Even if so, Simmons should play if he is fit for the first time since June last year.
Even if Game 4 is the only game he plays this year because the Nets lose again, it would be worth it.
The 25-year-old three-time Australian All-Star hasn’t played since his controversial performance for Philadelphia in last year’s Eastern Conference playoffs in which he passed up an open dunk because he was apparently too worried of being fouled and having to head for the free throw line, drawing criticism from teammate Joel Embiid and coach Doc Rivers, which was pretty sweet in the grand scheme of things.
Everyone thought February’s trade to Brooklyn would be the end of the saga where he wasn’t on the pitch for the Sixers because he was ‘not mentally ready’, but an untimely back injury prolonged his laid off until the post-season.
It will be extraordinary if his first appearance in his new No. 10 jersey for Brooklyn is in the playoffs, an under-pressure clash with the Celtics in a series already marred by Kyrie Irving’s clashes with fans at his former home arena in Boston.
But anything Simmons can do to get back on the court and restore his reputation will benefit him.
Even if he only plays one game for the Nets in minutes, it would be better than nothing and another six months of speculation about all aspects of his game before next season.
Even if he doesn’t suddenly reveal a jump shot or show improvement on the free-throw line, getting back on the court and clearing that hurdle will be huge to his long-term plan to become one of the elite again. of the NBA. stars.
Two-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas, whose own career has been cut short by injury in recent years, was excited about the prospect of Simmons’ return but said expectations shouldn’t be too high.
“I’m excited to see what Ben Simmons brings to the Nets. I keep hearing “He’s going to play the role of Draymond” as if he had already played that role? Do we know if he is even good in this role? Don’t just throw out the “Role of Draymond” as if it were something simple!! If it were easy…”
Simmons, at his best, would be an ideal add-on piece for Brooklyn with his athletic defense and high-level game working well alongside Irving, superstar forward Kevin Durant and other shooters like Seth Curry and Patty Mills.
No one should expect him to be close to his best right away, but after so much speculation, sniping and fake auroras, let’s hope he finally gets back on the pitch to put an end to this. saga once and for all to launch what should be the second. stage of a long career.
Injuries don’t automatically mean upsets
A few unfortunate injuries opened up a couple of first-round playoffs.
After missing the first two games of the series against Utah, the Mavericks announced that All-Star guard Luka Doncic will not participate in Friday’s Game 3 because he still hasn’t overcome his calf strain.
With the series locked at 1-1 after Dallas’ double-header, it’s a wise move to keep him benched if he’s not fully fit, but if the Jazz win the next home contest, Doncic could be pushed on a wheelchair by Mavs coach Jason Kidd for Game 4.
Phoenix star Devin Booker has already been ruled out for the remainder of the first-round game against the Pelicans after suffering a torn hamstring in the Game 2 home loss.
Even if the series is tied and the next two games are in New Orleans, there’s a good chance the Suns will still progress to the next round in six games – their win-loss ratio on the road this season was better than anyone else. record.
All-Star forward Khris Middleton is out for two weeks with an MCL sprain, opening the door slightly for Chicago after Milwaukee dropped Game 2 at home to give the Bulls a split in the first two games.
But the Bucks are still likely to finish without even having to worry about a Game 7 as long as Giannis Antetokounmpo is on the floor.
Matches not to be missed
Friday: Grizzlies at Timberwolves, 9:30 a.m.
Minnesota fans have been starved for the playoffs and after capturing Game 1 of the series, Wolves have an outside chance to upset second-seeded Memphis.
Saturday: Suns at Pelicans, 11:30 a.m.
For a 1v8 game, the first two games were much closer than usual. Brandon Ingram plays for New Orleans and Zion Williamson is apparently keen to play, but the franchise wants to keep him cotton. With Devin Booker out, Chris Paul’s fourth quarter mastery will be even more important for Phoenix.
Sunday: Celtics at Nets, 9:30 a.m.
Jayson Tatum vs. Kevin Durant is enough of a draw on its own and with Brooklyn facing a 3-0 deficit and questions about its production thus far, KD is likely to unleash its entire bag of tricks to keep its team. urge.
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