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Ben Simmons on Monday debut: ‘I’ll fit in. I’m not worried about that’

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Appearing confident and ready to go after a nearly 10-month layoff, Ben Simmons said he believes it’s “reasonable” that he’ll play in Game 4 at Barclays Center vs. the Boston Celtics. And he said he’s not worried whether he’ll fit in, that he has the BBIQ to fit in with his new teammates.

“We’ll find out,” the 25-year-old Simmons said when asked about making his team debut in a what will be a crucial postseason game. “I’ll fit in. I’m not worried about that.”

“I got to get on the floor and help this team win. I’ve been traded to the Brooklyn Nets, and that’s what they need me to do,” Simmons said.

Why so confident? he was asked.

“I think for me, my IQ is so high, to play with guys like [Kyrie Irving] and Seth [Curry] and [Durant], just watching them I know how they play and how they want to play, for me to get them in their spots and be a floor general. It’s exciting, and I’m looking forward to it.”

It was Simmons first availability with the Nets media since February 15 when he held a press conference following the trade.

Simmons hasn’t played for Brooklyn since being traded to the Nets by the 76ers at the trade deadline and he hasn’t played in the NBA since June 20th of last season after Philly lost to Atlanta in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals. After that game, which ended with post-game criticism from teammate Joel Embiid and coach Doc Rivers, Simmons asked for a trade from Philadelphia, citing mental health issues.

Simmons seemed ready to return to play after some reconditioning but back issues, ultimately revealed to be a herniated disc in his lower back, put him on the shelf. After being administered an epidural on the weekend of March 15, Simmons slowly worked his way back helped by rest and rehab.

By delaying his debut till Game 4, Simmons will get one more practice to round into shape and ensure that his pain has dissipated enough for him to play at full speed. There’s been speculation that Simmons will have a minutes restraint, but no official word.

Shams Charania spoke to Rich Eisen about the rationale for holding Simmons till Game 4,..

“I think just allowing him an extra day, even more time to get practice time in. This is a guy who hasn’t played in almost a year, June 2021, and so you want him to be rolled out there on all cylinders,” Charania said in an interview with Eisen. “He’s done a couple of days of scrimmages this week.”

Adrian Wojnarowski reported that even if the Nets lose Saturday and go into an elimination game Monday, Simmons is expected to play.

Meanwhile, Shams and Woj report that barring any unlikely circumstances, Robert Williams, the Celtics shot-blocking center and Nets nemesis, will return for Game 3 Friday.