Nets star Ben Simmons reportedly expected to practice against teammates this week

Simmons is targeting a return sometime between Games 4-6 in the first-round series against the Celtics.

Ben Simmons might not be on the bench and wearing street clothes by the end the Celtics-Nets series. Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets could be adding a star player in the middle of their first-round series against the Celtics.

Point guard Ben Simmons is expected to take the next step in his back injury rehab and practice against teammates this week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday. Practicing against his Nets teammates is viewed as a major step forward for Simmons, who has been doing “1-on-0” workouts, according to Wojnarowski.

It was reported earlier in the week that the Nets and Simmons were targeting him to play some time between Game 4-6 in the first-round series. Following Saturday’s news, that hope remains, Wojnarowski said.


However, Nets coach Steve Nash seemed to temper expectations on a Simmons return when speaking to reporters on Saturday. Nash explained that Simmons is still doing individual work and noted what he can and can’t do.

“He does some running, but like I said the other day, no sprinting,” Nash said. “Honestly, I don’t see what he’s doing, but I know he’s not sprinting.”

“I think clearly he’s improving, but I have no idea if he’s getting close to play or not,” Nash added.

During Nets practice on Saturday, Simmons told ESPN reporter Nick Friedell to capture a video of him dunking, which he then did.

“There you go,” Simmons told Friedell.

Simmons hasn’t played for the Nets since he was traded to Brooklyn from Philadelphia in February due to a herniated disk in his back. The three-time All-Star didn’t play with the 76ers at all this season prior to the trade either as he held out due to a conflict with the franchise.

The Celtics have some playoff history with Simmons. Boston took on Simmons and Philly in the second round of the 2018 playoffs. Simmons, who was in his rookie season, had some struggles in the series, including scoring just one point in the Celtics’ Game 2 win. Simmons ended up averaging 14.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 6.4 assists in the series, which Boston won, 4-1.


How much Simmons would be able to bring in terms of minutes and production is obviously still a huge question. But with stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving by his side, Simmons likely wouldn’t have to carry much of the burden – at least offensively. Brooklyn’s defense could use the two-time All-Defensive first-teamer though, as it’s struggled to guard Jayson Tatum through the season.

In the last matchup between the Celtics and Nets, Tatum scored a season-high 54 points in a Boston win. Tatum also averaged 30.6 points per game in the playoff series between the two teams last season, which included a 50-point performance in Game 3 and a 40-point performance in Game 4.

The Celtics could counter Simmons’ return by bringing back one of their starters later in the series, too. Center Robert Williams has a “very real” chance to return later in the series, Wojnarowski reported Wednesday. Williams has been out since March 27 after he tore the meniscus in his left knee.

Following the surgery to repair the injury on March 30, the Celtics shared there was a four-to-six-week timeline for Williams’s return. Game 5, which takes place on April 27, would mark four weeks since he had the surgery.


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