Every game from this point on is big. It’s the post-season even if only the play-in tournament and the Nets are looking like they’re getting healthy at the same time.
On Monday, the Nets practiced and while there was a lot of talk about the possibility of a Ben Simmons return, maybe even in the first round of the playoffs, the big news was that two of their veteran guards, Seth Curry, who was out Sunday with ankle woes, and Goran Dragic, coming back from a COVID-19 infection, will be available when the Nets face the Cavaliers Tuesday. That will alleviate a lot of pressure on Kyrie Irving who leads all NBA players in minutes per game — nearly 42 — since the All-Star Break. (Kevin Durant is second.)
Curry, who’s admitted his ankle needs rest and is officially listed as probable, said he’ll be ready to go.
“If I have 10-15 minutes on the court, I gotta be efficient with I’m doing out there and get the shots that I need and then get off of it,” said Curry who’s averaging 14.9 points and 2.6 assists and rebounds while shooting 46.8 percent from deep, higher than both what he shot before the February 10 trade while in Philly (40.0) and his career (44.0).
Curry has missed two of the Nets last four games and three of the last nine.
Dragic had been listed as “out” by Steve Nash after this morning’s practice was surprisingly upgraded to available in the late afternoon. He’s missed five straight games after testing positive and entering health and safety protocols in Atlanta on April 2.
The big news Nets fans are awaiting, of course, concerns Simmons. After most pundits had declared him out for the playoffs unless the Nets made a deep run, there was a buzz over the weekend, fed by back-to-back bulletins from Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski, that the 6’11” point guard could play his first game of the 2021-22 season in the first round which if the Nets get out of the play-in, will take place Sunday in either Boston or Miami.
The Nets were not willing to commit to anything either post-game Sunday or post-practice Monday, but they wouldn’t dismiss it either.
“Another challenge, but one that we’d welcome, clearly,” Nash said of the possibility after Monday’s practice. “So we’ll see — if he’s able to play at some point it would be great to incorporate him and to try and learn as we go and see how he can help our team without having much history, or any history, with our group.
“The bottom line is we’d be adding a substantial talent to our team so we really welcome him,” Nash added. “He fits and he helps in a number of ways. We’re in need of help so we would welcome that challenge of trying to incorporate him in a playoff situation where he has no history with our team. No minutes on the floor with his teammates and see how we can forge that understanding as quickly as possible.”
Simmons, who was seen pre-game Sunday shooting and moving well, was working out Monday ... in full view of the Nets beat writers.
Simmons getting some stretching and resistance band work in after practice. pic.twitter.com/JNhcmjlnvU— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 11, 2022
Ben Simmons works out this morning at Nets shootaround: pic.twitter.com/lWX6AZ8pg4— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) April 11, 2022
Curry played with Simmons last year in Philadelphia before Simmons walked out of 76ers camp citing mental health issues. He said he too would welcome the versatile 25-year-old back but noted the Nets have an issue at hand, the play-in game (or games.)
“We’re worried about the play-in game right now,” Curry said. “If Ben comes in, we’ll try and integrate him as much as possible, but we feel like we’re locked into this play-in situation right now, if Ben does become available we’ll deal with that then, but we have to worry about who we have out there and focus on Cleveland. I don’t think anybody’s going to be thinking about if Ben can come back, as a team. Maybe the coaches and front office — but as players, we’re locked into the task at hand.”
Meanwhile, it appears that Jarrett Allen who’s recovering from a broken finger, is not recovered enough to play against his old team, although his head coach, J.B. Bickerstaff, was non-committal Sunday.
“If he’s ready to go, he’ll go.” said Bickerstaff when asked. However, Monday evening, Shams Charania reported that Allen is out Tuesday.
- Brooklyn Nets would welcome ‘challenge’ of a potential Ben Simmons return - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Ben Simmons injury update: Nets optimistic guard could make team debut in first round of playoffs, per report - Sam Quinn - CBS Sports