Ben Simmons, the savior?
Simmons reportedly plans to make his season-debut for the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4 of their first-round matchup with the Boston Celtics, barring any setbacks.
The Nets trail the Celtics, 2-0, in the best-of-seven series, with Game 3 set for Saturday night in Brooklyn.
Simmons, acquired by the Nets in a trade-deadline deal with the Philadelphia 76ers in February, has not played this season while dealing with mental health concerns and a herniated disc in his back.
"It's literally day to day," Simmons told reporters on Friday. "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."
The 25-year-old point guard last played during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in June while with the Sixers, when his relationship with the team began to deteriorate. Simmons' struggles from the free throw line led to hesitance with his shot, including passing up a wide-open dunk attempt that would have evened the score late in Game 7, which the Sixers lost to the Atlanta Hawks.
Postgame comments by Doc Rivers and Joel Embiid contributed to Simmons demanding a trade. After holding out during training camp, Simmons eventually returned but was suspended for the season opener after being kicked out of practice. He then informed the team he was not mentally ready to play.
The Sixers ultimately dealt him to the Nets along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and draft picks in exchange for James Harden and Paul Millsap.
Simmons, a three-time All-Star and two-time All-Defensive Team selection, has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists in his career. If able to play, he'll be doing so during the most important game of the Nets' season to this point, alongside teammates he has never played with.
"It's a good challenge, but I'm looking forward to it," Simmons said. "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 floor general, it's exciting. I'm looking forward to it."