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Ben Simmons now probable vs. Utah Jazz Monday night

Jacque Vaughn says Simmons is nearly back after completing a practice with the Long Island squad

Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Ben Simmons has moved from the unofficial “high likelihood” to official “probable” for Monday’s game vs. the Utah Jazz in Brooklyn.

On Saturday, Jacque Vaughn said there was a “high likelihood” that Ben Simmons makes his return from a nerve impingement in his lower left back against the Utah Jazz on Monday night. Then, on Sunday, the NetsPR Twitter account listed Simmons as “probable.”

Vaughn spoke about Simmons prior to Brooklyn’s contest against the Houston Rockets, the point-forward’s 38th consecutive absence. The Nets head coach was encouraged by the final step in Simmons’ long journey back to the court: a full practice with the G League squad on Saturday morning.

Said Simmons of the practice: “It was great. I feel great. It was good to just be on the floor and get up and down and play and get some live situational things going for me. So, I’m excited to be back and looking forward to it.”

He continued, explaining why he now feels ready to return to game-action: “I think just having that confidence in playing, getting hit and going up and down and having different bodies around and being in different situations on the floor for myself, and then feeling good the next day.”

The Nets have lived and died many deaths since the Aussie last suited up for them, which was in a November 6 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. In the aftermath of that loss, the Nets went 10-6 over the next five weeks to improve to 13-10, though such positivity has been washed away by an extended losing stretch. Brooklyn is now 18-27 prior to their game against Houston on Saturday night. They also place 11th in the East, putting them out of the play-in tournament by a half-game and 10 out of the sixth seed and a guaranteed playoff spot.

As a result, Simmons’ focus in his return is simple: “Win. Win, just win. We need some wins so that’s the only thing I want ... Just the win.”

Will Ben Simmons be the cure to all that ails the Brooklyn Nets? His outspoken agent, Bernie Lee, is on the record saying his client “will fix their issues” … and have a “sustained” recovery.

So, we are likely — “probable” — to get our answer as soon as Monday night, when the Nets face Utah Jazz at the Barclays Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.