Ben Simmons is making progress towards a return in the NBA playoffs after being cleared for contact says to Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash.

Simmons, who was traded to the Nets from the Philadelphia 76ers in February, has not played in the NBA all season after a fallout at his former franchise.

The 25-year-old three-time All-Star had struggled initially with him reconditioning after joining the Nets, before being plagued by a back problem which he is slowly overcoming.

"He's making progress," Nash told reporters after Tuesday's practice. "We'll just see how he responds and see if he's able to do more contact [on Wednesday]."

Simmons had joined in a 4-on-4 with teammates at a Monday workout with contact.

"So far, so good," Nash said. "I think he managed yesterday's activity well."

The Nets are currently 1-0 down in their seven-game first round playoffs series against the Boston Celtics.

Nash confirmed Simmons would not play in Game 2 on Wednesday but there is growing hope he will participate in the series in some capacity.

"I wouldn't be able to say anything about that because I'm not even sure how he's going to get through these weeks," Nash said.

"We have to also consider it's a nine-month absence or whatever it is, so it's not just like he had a six-week absence, so I think this is a pretty unique scenario. It's not as linear as maybe the other kind of in-season injuries."

It is looking increasingly likely that Ben Simmons will play for the Brooklyn Nets this season after reports that he is targeting a return during his side's first-round series against the Boston Celtics.

Shams Charania from The Athletic – who is also represented by Simmons' agency, Klutch Sports Group – said the Nets are hoping the return comes around April 25-29, which coincides with Game 4, Game 5 and Game 6 of the series.

Simmons is yet to play at all this season after sitting out of the early portion of the season with the Philadelphia 76ers due to mental health reasons, and has been sidelined with a back injury since arriving with the Nets via trade.

While everything is trending positively for Simmons' Nets debut to come in this year's playoffs, superstar teammate Kevin Durant said he would believe it when he sees it.

"I'm not expecting him to play," he said after practice on Thursday. 

"That's easier for me. I'm not putting any pressure on Ben to come out there and hoop. 

"So I'm not expecting him to do anything but just to get his body right and get healthy as fast as he can – in my mind, I'm preparing as if we're playing with the team we have."

Head coach Steve Nash was non-committal when asked about Simmons' chances.

"It's up to Ben's back," he said. 

"It's not up to me, any of us, other than his back… there's a chance Ben comes back, there's a chance he doesn't come back. 

"So I think for us, we got to focus on the group; support Ben and his journey to get back on the floor, but at the same time we don't have time to lose focus on the group that's playing.

"Ben's a franchise cornerstone – but right now it's about supporting him physically and mentally to get back on the floor, and coaching the group to put its best foot forward in the first few games of the series at least. 

"Internally, we're not sitting here saying 'Ben's returning in this series' – we'll see what happens."

Kevin Durant admits it will be tough to stop Jayson Tatum after the Brooklyn Nets progressed to the playoffs where they will face the Boston Celtics in a blockbuster first round series.

The Nets got past the Cleveland Cavaliers 115-108 in the play-in tournament on Tuesday to clinch the seventh seed, meaning they will face the second-seeded Celtics.

Durant scored 25 points with five rebounds and 11 assists, while ex-Celtics guard Kyrie Irving had 34 points with 12 assists.

The last time the two sides met, the Nets were beaten 126-120 by the Celtics on March 7 with Tatum scoring 54 points.

Tatum is seventh overall this season for points per game, averaging 26.9 shooting at 45.3 per cent from the field and 35.3 from three-point range.

"That's a tough question," Durant told reporters, when asked how to stop Tatum. "He's one of those players you've got to play hard and see what happens.

"He's just so talented, skilled and efficient at what he does. We've just got to play hard and I expect us to."

Irving added that keeping Tatum quiet would go a long way towards winning the series.

"It starts with really slowing JT down," Irving said. "He has a great feel playing against us. Everyone else around is very complementary to that attack."

Durant added: "[It's about] staying disciplined, playing together and playing with passion. I don’t have the schemes or the strategy to break it down to you. That's what every team needs to bring to win in the postseason."

The Celtics are one of the form teams in the NBA, going 35-12 since the turn of the year to finish the regular season with a 51-31 record.

Nets head coach Steve Nash said: "I'm really impressed with the Celtics, the job Ime [Udoka] has done. They've been able to build on that continuity.

"That group has been together for quite a while. They've made some tweaks and adjustments that have really improved their team both ends of the floor.  

"It'll be a great challenge for us. For a new group to go and play a team like that that's terrific at both ends is going to be something that hopefully brings the best out of us."

Steve Nash called the potential inclusion of Ben Simmons in the playoffs "another challenge" that he and the Brooklyn Nets would welcome.

Simmons, a three-time All-Star, is yet to play a game this season after his relationship with the Philadelphia 76ers broke down and he opted to sit out for mental health reasons until his trade could be organized.

The 2021 Defensive Player of the Year runner-up has also been dealing with a back injury since arriving in Brooklyn, which has kept him out of action since the All-Star break.

A recent report indicated it was unlikely that Simmons would play at all in the playoffs, but with an updated and upgraded prognosis, the Nets believe his return this year is not out of the question.

When asked about possibly integrating Simmons into the playoff rotation, Nash called it a good problem to have.

"Another challenge, but one that we'd welcome, clearly," Nash said of the 25-year-old.

"So, we'll see – if he's able to play at some point it would be great to incorporate him, and to try and learn as we go and see how he can help our team without having much history, or any history, with our group.

"The bottom line is we'd be adding a substantial talent to our team, so we really welcome him.

"He fits and he helps in a number of ways. We're in need of help, so we would welcome that challenge of trying to incorporate him in a playoff situation where he has no history with our team."

However, long-time teammate Seth Curry, who came over with Simmons in the trade that brought James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers, was not willing to look ahead to a potential return for the big Aussie.

"We're worried about the Play-In game right now," Curry said. 

"If Ben comes in, we'll try and integrate him as much as possible, but we feel like we're locked into this Play-In situation right now.

"If Ben does become available, we'll deal with that then, but we have to worry about who we have out there and focus on Cleveland. 

"I don't think anybody's going to be thinking about if Ben can come back, as a team. Maybe the coaches and front office – but as players, we're locked into the task at hand."

Ben Simmons will not feature for the rest of the regular season or the upcoming Play-In tournament, according to Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash.

Simmons is yet to debut for the Nets following his February trade from the Philadelphia 76ers, following his bitter and prolonged stand-off with the team that drafted him. The Australian guard has subsequently not played all season.

The former All-Star had an epidural last month to alleviate pressure in his back as he struggles to build his conditioning up to a level fit enough to see him return to action.

Simmons has started participating in limited practice, but Nash confirmed on Monday that the 25-year-old will not return before the end of the regular season, or for the Play-In, which takes place between April 12-15.

The Nets are on course to require two wins in the Play-In tournament to qualify for the playoffs, sitting in 10th place in the Eastern Conference after three defeats in their last four games, with an overall regular-season record of 40-38.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash remains optimistic that Ben Simmons will play at some point this season but has revealed the new signing has a herniated disk in his back.

Simmons is yet to debut for the Nets following his February trade from the Philadelphia 76ers, whom he fell out with over the off-season. The Australian guard has subsequently not played all season.

The former All-Star had an epidural last week to alleviate pressure in his back as he struggles to build his conditioning up to a level fit enough to see him return to action.

The Nets, who appear headed for the Play-In Tournament with a 37-34 record sitting eighth in the east, have only 11 regular-season games remaining, meaning the clock is ticking on Simmons.

"He's had this [herniated disks] a couple years ago, so he's had them throughout his career at some points," Nash told reporters prior to Sunday's game against the Utah Jazz.

"I guess there was a flare-up. I'm not sure when they recognised it was beyond a back flare-up and a herniated disc or what not, but somewhere along the line there, that was the reason for the epidural."

He added: "From what I know, he trained pretty hard for five, six months. He was in a great place. Unfortunately, I think there was a little flare-up at some point in there and it's just never quite turned the corner since.

"I think he had months of five, six days a week on court and was doing very well, so just unfortunate, but we stay the course. Hopefully a good resolution to this in the near future."

Simmons is yet to be cleared to return to practice although Nash said surgery had not yet been discussed.

"We still have high hopes that he can come back," Nash said. "He's had moments during his rehab where he's on the court doing some things and it looks like he's about to turn a corner, and then there's a little setback so I still feel optimistic that he can play for us."

Brooklyn Nets' new star acquisition Ben Simmons received an epidural injection while he was away from the team during the team's trip to Orlando.

Simmons is yet to play a game this season. He was traded by the Philadelphia 76ers after making himself unavailable due to mental health reasons following the fallout from their 2021 playoffs defeat to the Atlanta Hawks, while a back injury has delayed his Nets debut.

In Wednesday's press conference, coach Steve Nash said the hope was that the injection would assist the healing process.

Nash went on to say that the team will have to wait-and-see how Simmons reacts to the treatment, and that there is no current timetable for his return to practice.

Steve Nash joked Kyrie Irving produced more career highlights in the space of 12 minutes against the Orlando Magic than the Brooklyn Nets coach managed in his entire career.

Irving scored a career-high 60 points – the most for a Nets player in their NBA history – in Tuesday's 150-108 victory in Florida.

The seven-time NBA All-Star shot 20 for 31, which included eight of 12 on 3-pointers, and made 12 of 13 free throws in his 35 minutes on the court.

Forty-one of Irving's points came in the first half as he became the second Nets player over the past 25 years, after Deron Williams in March 2012, to have 40-plus points in a half.

It was an individual display that will long live in the memory, with Brooklyn coach Nash leading the tributes for the 29-year-old.

"He's just incredible. I felt like he had my career highlight reel in the first 12 minutes of the game," Nash said. 

"It's special to watch him every night – but it's special to watch him on nights like this, where he's in total control, total command. 

"He gets wherever he wants and is able to finish amongst the trees. It's just a pleasure to see it up close and to be a part of it."

 

Irving's 60-point display came a day after the Minnesota Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns also hit that mark against the San Antonio Spurs.

It marks the first time that two players have scored 60 points on successive nights in NBA since 1962.

There have now been seven 50-point games in the NBA in March, which is tied for the most in a single month since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.

And Nets star Kevin Durant, who added 19 points in the win over Orlando, believes the division is now as strong as ever.

"The night after Karl Towns had an incredible performance, to then have Kyrie do it the next night, the league is in an incredible place right now," Durant said.

"I'm sure in the first quarter you saw it developing. Sixteen in the first and then midway through the second all of us on the bench are still looking.

"It's just like that every game for Ky, when you look up and, like, 'Damn, he got 10, 12, 14 points already'."

Durant scored 53 points in Sunday's win over the New York Knicks, making him and Irving the first team-mates in NBA history with 50+ points in back-to-back games.

"Making history, man. making history," Irving said when that stat was put to him. "Doing it with that guy is very special. But credit goes to our group. 

"Our guys in our locker room, they really believe in us, they really rock with us, there's not a doubt in our mind that they really believe that we can do something special. 

"And not just this year, but for years to come. We have a good group. And we're all sacrificing something that's bigger than ourselves."

He added: "When you're a kid scoring a bunch of points, it means something. When you're in the best league in the world doing it against the greatest, it means a little bit more."

The Nets have now won four games in a row to improve to 36-33 for the season, placing them eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Irving will not play against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday due to New York City's mandate requiring vaccination against COVID-19, though he intends to be in attendance.

"I'll probably wear a media pass," he joked. "It's a little awkwardness. 

"But I'll show up there with my family and get a warm embrace from New York, Brooklyn, everybody that's there to support the Nets and support our organisation, support me."

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said he is hopeful of Ben Simmons debuting with his new team before the playoffs, but indicated it is far from a sure thing.

With only 14 games to play before the postseason begins, Simmons still has not been cleared to practice due to a back injury that has only worsened since arriving in Brooklyn.

The Nets have shown they can win without Simmons for the time being – including a dominant performance in Philadelphia against former team-mate James Harden – but to be a serious title contender, the former first overall pick will need to play a significant role.

Currently occupying the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn have an uphill battle to try to make up the four games they sit behind the six-seed Cleveland Cavaliers to avoid the play-in tournament and secure a guaranteed playoff berth.

While he has not been able to participate in team practices, Nash said the team are trying to get Simmons as involved as possible and build the necessary chemistry, and that he has "extremely high hopes that we'll see him in the regular season".

"The biggest thing we've tried to do is to have him be involved in everything," Nash said. 

"The travelling is the one caveat, where sometimes you're weighing the cost-benefit of him on aeroplanes and buses and different beds. 

"When he's with us, we want him in every meeting, in every walkthrough, in every film session, whatever it may be, so he's around the group. 

"We'd love for him to travel, be with the team all the time, but we have to weigh that scenario as well."

While Simmons is a "perfect fit" for Brooklyn's team construction and style, according to Nash, there is no way to simulate on-court repetitions alongside stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

"I think he has a pretty good understanding [of what the Nets are doing]," the coach said.  "Now, has his focus been on learning what we're doing? No, it's been on getting better. 

"We've had him around, we want him to learn, but there's a lot going on when you're desperately trying to fight to get on the court.

"I don't expect him to be totally dialled in on what we're doing, because part of that is also feel; getting out there with your team-mates, seeing how it fits. 

"I think he'll be a perfect fit for our guys – but some of that stuff is also getting out there and doing it, learning on the fly, rather than reading it off the notes."

Kevin Durant hailed Kyrie Irving's season-high 50-point performance in the Brooklyn Nets' 132-121 win over the Charlotte Hornets as a "masterclass".

Durant took a backseat as the Nets point guard hit nine three-pointers, shooting at 79 per cent from the floor, making 15-of-19.

Irving became one of 22 players in NBA history with five 50-point games, while he also became the second guard – behind Michal Jordan – in the league to have multiple 50-point games while shooting 75 per cent or better from the floor.

"Everything he does is pure. It looked so easy tonight," Durant told reporters after the game. "I seen [sic] it in his eyes to start the game.

"He wanted to play better last game, so he came out tonight and wanted to impact the game from the start. He led us all night. It was an incredible performance.

“Younger players should watch this game and learn what it takes to score at that level. That was just a masterclass."

Nets head coach Steve Nash added to the praise of Irving, labelling him an "incredible player".

"He's incredible. He's a career-highlight reel every night," Nash said. "We have a special player on our hands. Overall, he's an incredible player and shot creator."

The result lifts Brooklyn to a 33-33 record, sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference ahead of the final push for the playoffs, having won only four of their past 21 games.

Durant added: "It's always good to get a win. We definitely want to play better than we did in the second half.

"We know we're fighting for our lives every game to get into the playoffs or the play-in. It's good to get the W."

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash has confirmed Ben Simmons will be with the team on the bench for Thursday's return game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Simmons is expected to receive a frosty reception from the 76ers fans at the Wells Fargo Center as he returns for the first time since last month's trade to the Nets.

The point guard had a major fallout with the 76ers after a nightmare playoffs period, leading to him requesting a trade and opting not to play all season until a trade was finalised in February.

Nash said Simmons, who is yet to debut for Brooklyn, will not play for the Nets on Thursday but will be in attendance with the team which he felt he needed to get out of the way.

"It's great," Nash told reporters prior to Tuesday's game against the Charlotte Hornets.

"He's on our team, he needs to be with his teammates and get the whole Philly thing out of the way a little bit. Maybe it never goes away, but the first time it's always nice to kind of deal with it and move on."

He added: "I don't think he's naive to think he's not going to get some boos. I hope he enjoys it. It's a part of the game I miss."

Simmons has not played since his trade due to a back complaint which has hampered his ability to get reconditioned to game standard having not played all season.

Nash was not clear-cut on Simmons' likely debut, with the Australian still not cleared to practice.

"It's to be determined," Nash said. "I think he's progressing this week, but I don't know what that means as far as Saturday.

"He'll see us [Wednesday] in Philly. I don't think he's ready for 5-on-5 basketball but he's improving, working out, and he'll join us in Philly, and a few good days of rehab."

Brooklyn Nets' All-Star Kevin Durant will return in the next week according to head coach Steve Nash.

Durant has been sidelined since January 15 when he suffered an MCL sprain, with the Nets struggling in his absence, sliding to a 31-29 record including a run of 11 straight defeats.

The Nets have been reluctant to put a timeframe on the 33-year-old's return, having been expected to be out until the All-Star break but Nash offered some clarity ahead of Saturday's road game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

"Every day closer," Nash said after shootaround. "We'll see. I expect in the next week he'll be back for sure. It could be quick; it could be the whole week barring any setbacks."

"I think with Kevin he's been a great healer throughout his career so the number one thing is to get him back healthy and feeling secure in his health and his body so he can move and be free.

"When he's back, obviously he adds a ton to our team on both ends of the floor... one of the greatest scorers of all time. And we also know he helps us defensively; he gives us more size and length. So he's a big miss for us, and whenever he gets back, he'll impact our team."

Nash was less committal on Ben Simmons, whom joined the Nets earlier this month in a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons has not played all season due to his standoff with the 76ers and is building up his conditioning, as well as managing a "little soreness in his back".

"He's not gone to high intensity yet," Nash said. "Just ramping him up still."

On the back issue, Nash added: "It's not like an injury. It's just kind of like as he's returning to play his back's flared up a little bit. It's not a long-term thing."

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash concedes his side must have urgency to arrest their slide after Thursday's 129-106 loss to the Boston Celtics left them with a 31-29 record.

The Nets were billed as title contenders earlier this season but have endured a tough midseason period, winning only two of their past 15 games with Kevin Durant out injured, Kyrie Irving unavailable for home games and James Harden traded out.

Harden swapped places with Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers, with the new acquisition still yet to debut as he re-conditions having not played this season.

Nash admitted having a healthy roster would go a long way to fixing his side's issues but conceded they needed urgency as their season slips away.

"We understand the situation we're in. We know there's urgency," Nash said at the post-game news conference.

"We're not going to have half a season to figure this thing out. We're up against the clock.

"Our guys have been great. There's a lot of pressure and circumstances that make it difficult as you're dropping in the standings but their spirit has been outstanding.

"That's the spirit of taking it day-by-day game-by-game trying to improve. At the same time, we recognise the situation we're in."

Jayson Tatum starred for the in-form Celtics with 30 points and seven rebounds, while the Nets' best were Seth Curry (22 points and seven rebounds), Bruce Brown Jr (15 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and Kessler Edwards (13 points and five rebounds) off the bench.

Nash was pressed on ways to fix their struggles without their key players, with no timeframes on Durant and Simmons' availability but he reverted to a healthy roster.

"That's number one, two, three and four really," Nash said. "We could've played better tonight, but we can play better on nights when we have everybody too.

"In this league, you flip it, take four of the Celtics starters out, it's a different look."

Seth Curry is excited about the weapons at the disposal of the Brooklyn Nets when they get their stars back on court after helping snap their 11-game skid in 109-85 win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday.

Curry top scored for the new-look Nets with 23 points including three three-pointers, while fellow new addition Andre Drummond added 11 points.

Brooklyn were without Kevin Durant (MCL sprain), Kyrie Irving (unable to play in New York due to vaccine mandate) and new acquisition Ben Simmons (conditioning).

"I didn't have to see what we did tonight to know the kind of style we'll play," Curry told reporters after the game.

"We'll have so many weapons out there - offensively and defensively. It's going to be a lot of fun to play.

"It's been a while since I got up and down the floor like that and played with that kind of pace, even in the halfcourt."

The win ends Brooklyn's slump that saw them go from a record of 29-16 to 30-27, but there is renewed hope with a fresh line-up after last week's trade moves that saw Curry, Drummond and Simmons join from the Philadelphia 76ers.

Drummond added: "We have a great group of guys. Guys that are missing right now, we got to wait for them to get healthy, but once everybody gets back I think we'll be very, very good and make a very good push in the playoffs."

Nets head coach Steve Nash had said pre-game that there was no official timeline on Simmons' return to play as he builds reconditioning having not played all season.

“I think he’s in a pretty good state mentally,” Nash said. “If we work with him in conjunction to his physical ramp-up to make sure he’s comfortable on and off the floor, I think he’ll be ready to play mentally when he’s physically ready.”

Kevin Durant has returned to on-court practice but the Brooklyn Nets are still not offering any timeframes on his return to play.

Durant has been sidelined since January 16 with an MCL strain in his left knee, with reports he will not return until after the All-Star Game on February 20.

The Nets have lost 10 in a row in the absence of Durant, who is averaging 29.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game this season.

Durant joined the Nets for their current road trip, marking the first time since sustaining the injury and noted he is edging closer to a return.

"I'm getting better every day," Durant told reporters prior to Saturday's game against the Miami Heat.

"It's obviously a process to get back on the court and I'm going through that every day. I'm feeling much better as each week passes. It's slow but you know I'm looking forward to ramping things up."

He added: "I feel that the next couple weeks that I'll start to do more. That's probably as much as I can give you and I don't know for sure.

"I'm just listening to the training staff, just doing my job and coming in and following the game plan every day. Whatever they give me.

"But from the last few weeks I feel like they'll be able to give me more and more each day goes on so I'll ramp up here soon and we'll see what happens.

"I want to be back as fast as possible but I also know that I don't want to go out there and be 80 percent. I want to be 100 so I can be the best that I can be."

Nets head coach Steve Nash also declined to offer any timelines on 12-time All-Star's likely return.

"He's on the court shooting, working through things, looking really good," Nash said on Saturday. "There's still a period of time he's got to go through to get over the line, but really positive."

The Nets also confirmed new trade acquisitions Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond would not yet debut against the Heat on Saturday.

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