August 10, 2022

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If the Nets don’t win Recreation 3, there’s no level in enjoying Ben Simmons in Recreation 4.

Actually, it could be negligent, irresponsible and downright harmful for them to play him in an elimination sport given the circumstances.

No crew in NBA historical past has ever come again from a 3-0 playoff deficit, and the Nets, who’ve to this point been unable to unravel the Celtics’ league-best protection, have lacked chemistry and cohesion all season, and have been completely outcoached by their former assistant Ime Udoka, don’t appear to be a crew positioned to grow to be the primary.

But the Nets, who the Celtics have bullied with their physicality by Video games 1 and a couple of, suppose Recreation 4 — going through a possible 3-0 deficit — is the most effective time to place Simmons on the ground.

Let me remind you that the Sixers rushed Simmons again from a nerve impingement in his decrease again in February 2020, a choice that finally price him about rather less than a month of motion and would have price him the whole season had the NBA not gone on hiatus then returned within the Orlando bubble.

That impingement shouldn’t be a factor of the previous: He cited decrease again ache throughout his coaching camp holdout with Philadelphia earlier this season, and his decrease again flared up weeks after his Feb. 10 arrival in Brooklyn by way of the James Harden commerce, this time as a herniated disk that required an epidural for Simmons to lastly begin feeling higher.

Let me remind you Simmons — in keeping with Nets head coach Steve Nash, whose phrases at this level needs to be taken with a grain of salt — obtained that epidural in mid-March, solely began training with contact on April 18 and nonetheless has but to play five-on-five together with his new teammates.

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And let me remind you that the Celtics have been so bodily on protection that they’ve turned Kevin Durant into MarShon Brooks.

Durant led the NBA with 29.9 factors per sport however is taking pictures simply 13-of-41 from the sector by the primary two video games of this sequence as a result of the Celtics are “hitting him” when he doesn’t have the ball and sending two or three our bodies all over the place he goes.

And the Nets wish to throw Simmons, who hasn’t performed basketball in over 10 months, hasn’t practiced 5-on-5 with full contact (once more, if we consider Nash), and whose again can’t probably be 100% only a couple months faraway from struggling a herniated disk, out onto the ground in opposition to Boston’s bruisers?

It’s a nasty look, particularly when you think about this, new from Saturday morning’s shootaround: Simmons hasn’t even practiced with the gamers who he’ll take the ground with if he does play in Recreation 4.

Veteran guard Goran Dragic, who the Nets have to play 40 minutes in the event that they wish to have an opportunity in Recreation 3, stated he has but to play with Simmons as a result of Simmons is just training with the stay-ready group. There aren’t even 9 gamers within the stay-ready group (the Nets’ group of end-of-the-rotation gamers), which is why Simmons has but to play five-on-five,

So if Dragic is telling the reality, meaning Simmons’ first time enjoying with any of the Nets’ common rotation gamers will include the sequence on the road in a possible elimination Recreation 4.

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“It’s powerful,” Dragic stated after Saturday’s shootaround. “It’s not the best-case state of affairs for us as a result of we don’t have time, however on the identical time, we’ve to attempt. We now have to place him in control.”

Dragic stated he can already envision how he’d play with Simmons however therein lies the cruel actuality: Two days earlier than the Nets plan on throwing their All-Star ahead into the hearth, there stays zero actual work that has been executed in apply that may counsel a easy transition of any kind in Recreation 4.

“You’re proper,” Dragic stated. “It’s important to apply that to construct that chemistry. Sadly, we don’t have time, so it’s a must to attempt. We’ll see.”

After which, after all, there’s the psychological well being facet of all of it. Simmons stated in his introductory press convention that he’s been coping with psychological well being points since lengthy earlier than he posted a dud in opposition to the Atlanta Hawks in final 12 months’s playoffs. However that’s the final time he performed a professional basketball sport, and one has to think about that’s the place these psychological well being points swelled.

In that sequence, he by no means took greater than six pictures in any of the ultimate three video games and turned down an open layup in Recreation 7 to present a teammate a tougher shot that was missed on a game-swinging possession. The 76ers, who have been heavy favorites, misplaced that sequence after constructing a 2-1 lead, and Simmons’  teammates and head coach Doc Rivers threw him beneath the bus proper after that sport.

And now the Nets wish to throw Simmons proper again into the strain cooker, trotting him half-healthy out onto the ground with the load of a complete championship-or-bust season on the road.

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“I’ve to get on the ground and assist this crew win,” Simmons stated after apply on Friday. “I acquired traded to the Brooklyn Nets and that’s what they want me to do, and that’s the place my focus is correct now.”

If the Nets actually need Simmons to play in Recreation 4, that they had higher come out and win Recreation 3. Recreation 3 for all intents and functions is a must-win, not simply because NBA historical past says no crew has ever come again from being down 0-3, however as a result of that historical past would additionally make placing Simmons (not 100%) on the ground essentially the most negligent resolution the franchise might probably make.

Nash stated Simmons didn’t play in any respect throughout Friday’s apply and that his again has had no setbacks from the four-on-four′s he’s performed to this point. A four-on-four, nevertheless, shouldn’t be remotely in the identical ballpark as a five-on-five in opposition to essentially the most bodily protection the Nets have seen this season. And if the Nets can’t win Recreation 3 with out Simmons, there’s really no level in wheeling him on the market for 15-to-20 minutes in Recreation 4, which makes Recreation 3, for each cause possible, a should win.

“I feel [Game 3] shouldn’t be a should win, however each sport is a should win within the playoffs, so I don’t essentially subscribe to [Game 3 being a must-win],” Nash stated. “You don’t go in and say Recreation 1′s not a should win. You are attempting to win each single sport. So our mentality shouldn’t change. We try to win each sport.”