Ben Simmons Brooklyn Nets return: NBA news, Eastern Conference playoffs, Star’s back injury

This is what we’ve all been waiting for. Aussie Ben Simmons has reportedly given the Brooklyn Nets’ rivals some very unwelcome news.

Ben Simmons will return to the NBA and make his debut for the Nets as early as next week, according to reports.

The Aussie’s return from mental health and a series of back injuries is being described as a “game-changer” for Brooklyn during their playoffs campaign.

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After ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Simmons could play as early as the Nets’ first round series against Boston, The Athletic’s Shams Charania now reports Simmons is targeting a return in Game 3 of the series, to be played in Brooklyn on April 24 (AEST). Simmons had stayed away from the 76ers all season to tend to his mental health. The Nets have said that Simmons is OK mentally and will play once he is OK physically, too.

Kevin Durant — who returned from a strained right calf injury only to suffer a torn Achilles in the 2019 Finals — said Simmons is in good spirits and should not rush back.

“He looks good as far as just walking around and being around the team. Haven’t seen him do anything on the basketball court as much, but a couple walk-through things,” Durant said Monday after shoot-around.

“I definitely don’t want him to rush back for us and his back is not right, so take all the time he needs to get his body right. And once he’s out there, we’re ready to rock and roll.”

The series against the Celtics begins Monday (AEST) after the Nets defeated Cleveland to advance from the play-in series.

With Simmons back, the Nets will finally have their trio of superstars all on the court together, potentially making them a championship contender.

The 25-year-old has been sitting on the bench for recent Nets games and has been spending more time on the court during regular training sessions with the rest of the squad.

Charania says Simmons could be a major boost for Brooklyn in their playoffs campaign.

“He (Simmons) is very, very confident he’ll be able to make a return at some point in this first round series,” Charania told The Pat McAfee Show.

“I think games one and two of the Boston series is too quick.

“But I definitely think after that is when the window for Ben Simmons to return opens up.

“Even if he’s able to give them 15 minutes or 20 minutes, that’s a game-changer because that’s a guy that automatically is put on the other team’s best player, he can move the ball, he can rebound.

“A lot can happen.

“So that is a potential game-changer if Ben Simmons can return.”

Nets coach Steve Nash shrugged off the report when asked following the Nets’ win over Cleveland on Wednesday.

“I have no idea. There’s been no update on his timetable,” he said.

“He’s moving more. He’s shooting. He’s starting to move a little bit on the court in a 1-on-0 environment. So definitely positive signs.”

Simmons has had a history of back issues that date back to February, 2020. The team has consistently referred to this injury as “soreness” or “tightness,” however an MRI exam last month revealed a strain.

The Nets acquired the young star February 10 in the deal that sent James Harden to Philadelphia.

If able to return this season, Simmons could potentially face his former team in the Easter Conference finals should the Nets and Sixers progress that far.

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