Ben Simmons still hasn’t played this season, but the Brooklyn Nets star appears closer than ever to returning to the floor. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the All-Defensive guard is aiming to return as early as Game 4 of Brooklyn’s first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics. Simmons has yet to participate in 5-on-5 in practice, however, and Windhorst reports that could change by the end of this week.

Simmons, who has been dealing with a back injury since getting traded to Brooklyn from Philadelphia, has been ramping up his workload and strengthening his legs and back over the last few weeks. With this latest report of him eying a return in the first round of the playoffs, it sounds as though he’s clearing all the necessary hurdles to make his long-awaited debut. 

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – MARCH 10: Ben Simmons #10,Goran Dragic #9 and Patty Mills #8 of the Brooklyn Nets celebrate from the bench in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on March 10, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 129-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Simmons demanded a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers after an embarrassing postseason loss to the Atlanta Hawks a year ago. He got his wish in a deadline blockbuster for James Harden, but still has not taken the floor as a member of the Nets. He recently received an epidural to help with the back pain he has been dealing with, and has been rehabbing ever since.

If Simmons does return at some point in the series against the Celtics, it will be interesting to see how much of a factor he can be having not played since last June. If he’s able to step in and return to his All-Defensive ways and provide necessary help in trying to contain Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown, then he could significantly help the Nets. 

However, his defense has never been the problem. The criticism around Simmons has always focused on his offensive game, and he’ll need to prove that he’s made strides in that area in not being passive in taking open looks if he wants to show that he can be just as valuable on that end of the floor.

With a more firm timeline for a potential return, it sounds like Brooklyn is closer than ever to getting the centerpiece of the Harden deal back in the fold.

Courtesy: CBS Sports


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