Even without Ben Simmons the duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving turned out to be as formidable as expected in the play-in tournament. They defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to clinch the 7th spot in the Eastern Conference. They will go to face the Boston Celtics yet again in the first round but the tables have turned.
Without Jaylen Brown, it was easy for the Nets to knock them out in just five games. Although Jayson Tatum put the fear of God in them to avoid a clean sweep, Brooklyn got the job done in Game 5. This year is a different story with a different roster. The Celtics are healthy and the Nets still experimenting with their rotation.
Ben Simmons, who is yet to play this season, will return to a high-intensity playoff situation without any NBA action since the disastrous Game 7 loss to Atlanta Hawks last year.
Ben Simmons plans to return against Boston Celtics
Ben’s reluctance to engage with the Sixers kept him out earlier this season. He was desperately waiting to be traded while also working with personal trainers. However, during the revamping process after the all-star break, Simmons encountered back ailments that didn’t allow him to return.
He was unable to don the Nets jersey before the end of the regular season. But to Brooklyn fans’ delight, the young point guard is ready to make a comeback by Game 4-6 against the Boston Celtics. That is if the series goes that far.
Sources: Nets three-time All-Star Ben Simmons is targeting a return within Games 4-6 (April 25-29) of first round series vs. Celtics.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 14, 2022
Unlike last season the Celtics have all the advantages. The Cs have the best comeback story this season. They started at the bottom of the table, fighting for a play-in spot while the Nets were comfortably enjoying the #1 seed. Post All-Star break they had only 5 losses and clinched the #2 spot. This is a mirror image of what it looked like last season.
It will be interesting to see if the Boston Celtics copy Brooklyn’s result in the first round with Ben Simmons potentially returning for Game 4.