After getting swept in the first two games of their first-round series against the Boston Celtics on the road, the Brooklyn Nets are looking forward to playing at home.
It’s not only for the fact that they have won their last five home games — four in the regular season and the play-in game — to march into the playoffs. But finally, having their most prized acquisition from the James Harden blockbuster trade.
Ben Simmons is reportedly ready to make his season debut in Game 4 of the series scheduled on Monday. The Nets, though, need to win Game 3 on Saturday to make Simmons’ late push to return worthwhile.
Brooklyn Nets three-time All-Star Ben Simmons plans to make his season debut in Game 4 vs. Boston on Monday as long as rehab remains on course, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Simmons is set to play his first game since June 2021.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 21, 2022
“There’s no other way than him to say, ‘I’m ready,'” Nash told reporters before Game 2. “Especially after an absence this long. So whenever he is ready, it’s going to have to be on him to say, ‘I feel comfortable. I feel ready to go. I want to play and I want to contribute.’
“We can’t push him places when you have been out this long. It’s got to be something where he is definitely comfortable and ready to play.”
Perhaps the Game 2 loss in which the Nets blew a 17-point lead has fast-tracked Simmons’ timeline. Whether Simmons is 100 percent healthy or not, the Nets need every help they can get to avert a disastrous first-round exit.
Simmons, who hasn’t played since last year’s playoffs, could be the Nets’ trump card in swinging back the momentum to their side after the Celtics’ defense suffocated their top stars, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
If Simmons could make plays and impact the Nets’ defense even in 15-minute spurts, it would be huge to loosen up the Celtics’ defense on Durant (4-17) and Irving (4-13), who were both held to under 32 percent shooting in Game 2. It’s the first time it happened in 55 games they have played together as teammates.
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