Brooklyn Nets' Ben Simmons 'very hopeful' to play in Game 4 vs.  the Boston Celtics on Monday night

Brooklyn Nets’ Ben Simmons ‘very hopeful’ to play in Game 4 vs. the Boston Celtics on Monday night

NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets swingman Ben Simmons continues to make progress from a back injury but likely won’t play in Game 3 on Saturday against the Boston Celtics, though he said it was “reasonable” to think he would play in Game 4 on Monday if he comes through the next couple of days of workouts without any issue and he was “very hopeful” to play at some point in the series.

“It’s literally day to day,” Simmons said Friday after practice. “So I’ve had plenty of great days, which has been great for me in building up. So we’re just trying to put those great days together and just keep building up to get back on the floor and play at that high level . … If I could play right now, I’d be on the court. So it is what it is.”

Simmons said he has gotten two or three scrimmage days under his belt and expects to get at least one more in on Saturday, but both he and Nets coach Steve Nash are unsure exactly what kind of impact he’ll be able to have if he does play in this series.

“We’ll find out,” Simmons said. “It’s a good challenge, but I’m looking forward to it. Especially playing with these guys. I think for me, my IQ’s so high, to play with guys like Ky [Irving] and Seth [Curry] and Kev [Durant]. Just watching them, I know how they play, I know how they want to play. And for me to just get them in their spots and be a general floor, it’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it.”

Simmons has not played for the Nets since being acquired just before the February trade deadline from the Philadelphia 76ers. He has missed more than two months while dealing with a herniated disk in his back and has not played since June 20, 2021, during a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He asked for a trade out of Philadelphia during the summer, citing mental health concerns.

When asked specifically what Simmons should be expected to contribute if he does play, given how much time he has missed, Nash was honest in his assessment.

“I don’t know,” Nash said. “I can’t answer that. Does anyone in here have the answer? We would be happy to have Ben play, and try to play, but only when he’s ready. And if he’s not, he’s not. So we’re not in here just counting down the minutes ’til Ben’s back. We want Ben to play when he’s ready to play and wants to make an impact.”

Simmons demurred when asked if he would still try to come back if the Nets lose Game 3 and go down 0-3 to the Celtics, saying he didn’t want to discuss “if’s.”

Simmons noted that while he is still building up strength in his back, he also has had to do so in his legs.

“When you have an injury like this, your whole leg is affected,” Simmons said. “So it’s going to take time to loosen these muscles and get back on the floor, but it’s day to day. So it’s treatment every day, pilates, workouts and just stay on top of it.”

Simmons said he would be up to Nash and the rest of the coaching staff regarding how many minutes he might be able to play, but remained outwardly optimistic that he would be able to fit in well with a team with which he has yet to play a minute.

“I’ll fit in,” Simmons said. “I’m not worried about that.”

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