Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets prepare to face the Boston Celtics without Ben Simmons
NEW YORK – While there has been speculation about the possible appearance of Ben Simmons With the Brooklyn Nets still a subject of debate within the NBA, the Nets star, Kevin Durantadmitted Thursday that he is preparing as if Simmons will not return as the Nets target their Eastern Conference quarterfinal match with the Boston Celtics.
“I don’t expect him to play,” Durant said after Thursday’s training. “That’s easier for me. I don’t pressure Ben to go out there and play. So I don’t expect him to do anything other than heal and recover as quickly as he can. In my opinion, I prepare like we’re playing with the team we have.”
Simmons, who was acquired by the Nets from the Philadelphia 76ers before the February trading deadline, has not played in an NBA game in nearly a year after asking for a deal to the Sixers last season, citing mental health issues. Simmons has had some back pain since late February and hasn’t been allowed to participate in exercise since arriving in Brooklyn. Nets coach Steve Nash said Thursday that Simmons is still not doing any “basketball conditioning” and continues to do individual rehab work.
“It depends on Ben’s back,” Nash said. “It’s not up to me, either of us, it’s his back, and how can we help with recovery? There’s a chance that Ben will come back, and there’s a chance he won’t come back. So I think we have to focus on the group, support Ben and his way back to the court, but at the same time not We have time to lose focus on the group that plays.
“Ben is a cornerstone of the series, but for now it’s about supporting him physically and mentally to get back on the field and train the group to be at their best in the first games of the series at least. Internally, no.” We say “Ben is back in the series.” We’ll see what happens.”
Durant, for his part, said he won’t let his mind turn on whether or not Simmons will return in the post-season.
“I don’t even think about it,” Durant said of a possible emotional boost with Simmons’ return. “We all know what kind of player Ben is. And you can build up scenarios in your mind yourself about what he would look like, but I wouldn’t because we take it one day at a time.”
Nash recently said he wouldn’t have trouble making Simmons’ playoff debut, even though he hasn’t played in nearly a year. When asked why he was so confident in this scenario given that it’s been so long since Simmons played an NBA game, Nash’s answer was simple.
“He’s a very talented player,” Nash said. “I think we’ll have to give him a chance if he’s healthy to play.”
“Of course,” Nash said of whether he had considered having Simmons in the lineup, “but not tomorrow.”
By the time I get back, Nash said. “When we made the change, I think everyone visualized how Ben could fit into our group. But I’m not sitting here expecting him to come back at any moment. It would be great when he’s ready and back. But in the meantime, we have to train the group and make sure we’re given the chance to compete even. without him.