For weeks, we’ve been getting reports about Ben Simmons’ status and when he could be ready to make his first appearance of the 2021-22 season after sitting out through the trade deadline with the Sixers and then rehabbing a back injury once he arrived in Brooklyn.
Recently, the word was that the target for Simmons’ return would be Games 4 of the first round, but that was in a world in which the Nets were expecting to have won a game by that point of the series. Instead, they find themselves down 3-0 to a Boston team that is absolutely rolling, which has forced a change of plans for Simmons. The team officially announced Simmons would be out on Sunday afternoon after Steve Nash insisted it was “news to me” that the former All-Star would be debuting on Monday night.
Nets are listing Ben Simmons as OUT for Game 4 vs. Celtics. A surprise as Simmons had been expected to play Monday as long as rehab was on course.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 24, 2022
There really shouldn’t be any surprise by this decision, as it’s one thing to have Simmons debut in a playoff game, but an entirely different animal to throw him out there for an elimination game. Considering how much of Simmons’ absence has been about his mental health, placing him in a situation where he could be scapegoated in an elimination game would have been setting him up to fail. While the Nets would surely love to have his presence, particularly on the defensive end, against the Celtics, it’s for the best long-term for Simmons and the Nets to protect him a bit in this circumstance — which is also why Nash hadn’t been willing to speak on a target date for his return.
On top of the mental side, back injuries can be tricky and according to Woj, Simmons is still feeling some soreness, which led to him remaining out for Monday.
ESPN Sources: The Nets and Ben Simmons expected he would be ready to play on Monday, but after getting on the court yesterday Simmons says he awoke with back soreness today. In the end, the team and Simmons agreed he'll remain out for Game 4.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 24, 2022