Boston Celtics

The Brooklyn Nets already have their backs almost flush against the wall. So the impending return of All-Star point guard Ben Simmons will be a welcome one for them.

According to Shams Charania, Simmons plans on making his season debut in Game 4 next Monday at the Barclays Center, “as long as rehab remains on course.” Simmons has been dealing with various physical and mental health issues over the past year, and most recently has dealt with a reported disc problem in his back.

Simmons hasn’t played since June 20, 2021, so Game 4 against the Celtics would also mark his Nets debut.


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Assuming he’s healthy, the 6-foot-11 Simmons, a reigning two-time member of the All-NBA Defensive team, would give Brooklyn an excellent chess piece to deploy at their end of the court, particularly against Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown. The Nets played solid defense against the Celtics’ two stars, anyway, in Game 2, until Tatum and Brown broke through in the fourth quarter of their comeback win. Simmons’ absence from the court and lack of chemistry with his new teammates aren’t ideal, but you’d have to think the Nets are better off with him than without.

In Brooklyn, the hope is that the Nets can get one back in Game 3, because bringing him back in Game 4 down 0-3 in the series would seem unnecessarily risky to his health. The Celtics are 40-1 all-time in playoff series when they win the first two games.

Game 3 takes place Saturday, with a scheduled start time of 7:30 p.m. ET. Here’s more about the series schedule.

PHOTOS: Celtics take on Nets in Game 2 of 2022 playoff series

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.


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Mazz: While relentless Celtics feast, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are flailing

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 20: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets dive for a loose ball during the fourth quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on April 20, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Nets 114-107. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 20: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets dive for a loose ball during the fourth quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on April 20, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Nets 114-107. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Before anyone makes predictions for what happens going forward, let’s just say this: it isn’t over yet. At least not mathematically. But if the Nets are going to make a series of this best-of-7 affair – let alone win it – they must find a way to fight through a relentless Celtics defense that last night turned Durant and Irving into Charmin. Combined, Brooklyn’s megastar nucleus went 8-for-30 overall last night and an unfathomable 1-for-17 in the second half – including 1-for-9 in the fourth quarter – which simply cannot help but make one wonder if … well … they just can’t hack it.

    “They’re playing two or three guys on me sometimes when I’m off the ball, mucking up actions when I run off stuff,” Durant remarked. “I see [Al] Horford leaving his man and coming over to hit me sometimes. There’s two or three guys hitting me wherever I go, and that’s just the nature of the beast in the playoffs.”

    Maybe this explains why Durant has never won a championship other than when he was part of a Golden State juggernaut. Or why Irving has never won one without Lebron James.

    I mean, let’s be honest. Durant has never exactly played to contact and never will. He doesn’t like it. It takes him out of his game. He’s built like a mantis, not a megalodon.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 20: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during a timeout during the first quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 20, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 20: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during a timeout during the first quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 20, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    And Kyrie? Oh, he was his defiant self in Game 1, often downright vulgar, loathsome but lethal. He scored 39 points. He owned the fourth quarter. Then the NBA fined him and probably warned him of a suspension, and he turned as invisible as he did during the 2019 playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks, his final, inglorious days with the Celtics.

    Lest anyone forget, those Celtics lost four straight to end their season, imploding around the San Andreas-like fault that was Irving’s attitude. He went 25-for-83 in those four games, a dreadful 30.1 percent. He was a mere 5-for-27 from 3-point distance, a paltry 18.5 percent. The Celtics lost those four games by a combined 65 points, an average margin of more than 16, after which Irving and Durant both ran off to Brooklyn together in search of validation.

    To date, of course, Irving and Durant still appear to be searching. James Harden came and went. Ben Simmons stands by. The Nets keep failing.

    And as for the Celtics and their own search for glory?

    They’re doing it the only way anyone can.

    They’re earning it.

  • Cry-rie?

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 20: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the second quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 20, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 20: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the second quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 20, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Looking lost

    Apr 20, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash looks on with forward Kevin Durant (7) during the second quarter of game two of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 20, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash looks on with forward Kevin Durant (7) during the second quarter of game two of the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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