Ben Simmons was ruled out of the Brooklyn Nets’ looming Game 4 showdown against the Boston Celtics on Monday. It was just the latest blow for the one-time Eastern Conference title favorites who are now one game away from being swept out of the playoffs.
Heading into this weekend, there was legitimate optimism that Simmons, who was acquired by Brooklyn in a midseason trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, would be able to suit up in the Nets’ last-ditch effort to save the season.
Unfortunately, on Sunday afternoon, news broke that Simmons’ back injury was irritating him again and that he was not fit to play.
On Monday morning, ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst provided some clarity on the situation.
“I know that this might have the appearance of Ben Simmons saying ‘I don’t want to play, we’re down 3-0.’ But, he woke up yesterday with his back hurting, that is what I have been told,” Windhorst reported on ESPN’s Get Up.
.@WindhorstESPN sounded off on the Lakers and Nets 😳
“The Lakers and the Nets being in this situation is just a complete failure at the highest level. Two of the biggest failures we’ve seen in the last 20 years.” pic.twitter.com/tI0JOBrJwi
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) April 25, 2022
“It’s as simple as that. He just didn’t feel comfortable going to play for the first time in 11 months with the way his back felt. That’s the bottom line. It’s extraordinarily disappointing because he had, I would say, genuine optimism for at least a week that he was going to play in this game.
“He wasn’t even ruling himself out for Game 3. And so, the Nets were expecting to get this, he was expecting to play. It was another knee-capping moment in what’s been a season of knee-capping moments for Ben Simmons.”
It’s hard not to read between the lines there. If Brooklyn truly believed that Simmons’ injury was debilitating, certainly nobody would blame him for sitting out. But in this case, it feels like questions linger.
The frustration with which head coach Steve Nash has spoken in regards to Simmons’ injury is telling. Ditto with the way Simmons has seemingly been healthy enough to galivant around with his girl, but not healthy enough to play.
It’s not unreasonable that people would start to wonder how much he actually wants to be an NBA player at this juncture.
The photos speak for themselves. https://t.co/0sKrpj6uyA
— Game 7 (@game7__) April 24, 2022
This is going to be an interesting situation to keep an eye on. Particularly if Brooklyn wins Game 4.
If the Nets are down 3-1, will Simmons attempt to come back for Game 5?
Time will tell.
Related: Steve Nash Gets Brutally Honest About Nets’ Struggles