NBA

Steve Nash hopeful but unsure if Ben Simmons will play before regular season ends

By Sports Desk March 15, 2022

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said he is hopeful of Ben Simmons debuting with his new team before the playoffs, but indicated it is far from a sure thing.

With only 14 games to play before the postseason begins, Simmons still has not been cleared to practice due to a back injury that has only worsened since arriving in Brooklyn.

The Nets have shown they can win without Simmons for the time being – including a dominant performance in Philadelphia against former team-mate James Harden – but to be a serious title contender, the former first overall pick will need to play a significant role.

Currently occupying the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn have an uphill battle to try to make up the four games they sit behind the six-seed Cleveland Cavaliers to avoid the play-in tournament and secure a guaranteed playoff berth.

While he has not been able to participate in team practices, Nash said the team are trying to get Simmons as involved as possible and build the necessary chemistry, and that he has "extremely high hopes that we'll see him in the regular season".

"The biggest thing we've tried to do is to have him be involved in everything," Nash said. 

"The travelling is the one caveat, where sometimes you're weighing the cost-benefit of him on aeroplanes and buses and different beds. 

"When he's with us, we want him in every meeting, in every walkthrough, in every film session, whatever it may be, so he's around the group. 

"We'd love for him to travel, be with the team all the time, but we have to weigh that scenario as well."

While Simmons is a "perfect fit" for Brooklyn's team construction and style, according to Nash, there is no way to simulate on-court repetitions alongside stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

"I think he has a pretty good understanding [of what the Nets are doing]," the coach said.  "Now, has his focus been on learning what we're doing? No, it's been on getting better. 

"We've had him around, we want him to learn, but there's a lot going on when you're desperately trying to fight to get on the court.

"I don't expect him to be totally dialled in on what we're doing, because part of that is also feel; getting out there with your team-mates, seeing how it fits. 

"I think he'll be a perfect fit for our guys – but some of that stuff is also getting out there and doing it, learning on the fly, rather than reading it off the notes."

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