Nets play smart with Ben Simmons’ minutes since return from calf injury

Ben Simmons, Brooklyn Nets
Dec 12, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons (10) drives to the basket as Washington Wizards guard Jordan Goodwin (7) defends in the second quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn Nets‘ Ben Simmons is averaging only 22 minutes in two games since his return from a left lateral upper calf strain. But he’s been impactful in those limited minutes, averaging 8.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.0 steals, helping the Nets continue rolling.

“You saw his minutes the last couple of games. They won’t be that low going forward. I’d love to keep everybody in the 20s if we’re winning, but we’ll be very smart if he plays back-to-backs and what those minutes look like. Probably not high 30s like they were on some occasions.”

Jacque Vaughn told reporters on Wednesday

The Nets have won eight of their last nine games, with Simmons missing three.

Before his latest injury, the Nets ramped up Simmons’ minutes, playing six straight games in the high 30s until he asked to be pulled out in the second quarter of their Nov. 28 win over Orlando Magic at home in the second night of a back-to-back schedule.

“We’re definitely going to react to the number of minutes he played before he had to take some time off. Maybe that was a sign to us that those minutes were too many. At that time, he was trying to play back-to-backs, and he was playing mid-30s at that time as well. So we’re definitely going to take a look at that, and we have.”

Jacque Vaughn told reporters on Wednesday

Simmons has already missed 10 games this season due to an assortment of injuries. But Vaughn is optimistic as the Nets’ schedule becomes lighter.

They had seven back-to-back games to start the season, tied for second-most with the Detroit Pistons during this early stretch, behind the Utah Jazz’s eight. The Nets are 4-3 in games with no rest this season.

Simmons is as frustrated as the Nets with his situation, but they’re all playing the long game, hoping to have him at his peak health in May.

“It’s tough, because once I’m out there, I want to stay out there. But we’re, playing for the long term, you know? We want to get to the playoffs healthy and do the right thing.”

Ben Simmons via NY Daily News

They’re currently in good shape at 17-12, just one game behind third seed Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.

Simmons is not listed on the Nets’ injury report for Friday’s road game in Toronto. But his minutes will remain monitored.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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