Friday, May 20, 2022

How Ben Simmons’ Return Affects the Brooklyn Nets’ Playoff Chances

The Brooklyn Nets acquired Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers in February, but Simmons has yet to see the court. On Saturday, though, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Ben Simmons will begin practicing with his teammates.

Simmons hasn’t played for Brooklyn due to a herniated disc in his back. He received an epidural in March and has practiced pain-free for the past week. With that, Brooklyn is taking the next steps in his rehab. What that includes remains to be seen, but he will be involved in more game-like situations.

The Nets are set to begin a best-of-seven series with the Boston Celtics on Sunday, with reports surfacing that Simmons could return for the latter half of the series. Simmons likely wouldn’t play more than 10-15 minutes in a given game, but he can provide Brooklyn with some much needed defensive consistency. Simmons made the All-NBA Defensive team in both 2020 and 2021.

Ben Simmons’ Role On the Court

On the offensive end, Simmons could play the role that Bruce Brown has grown into over the past month. Teams have consistently double-teamed Kevin Durant every time he has touched the ball beyond the three-point line. That leaves Bruce Brown open for a free roll to the basket. Brown has done well coming off of those double teams, and kicking it to the three-point line for an open shot or going to the basket for a layup. With Simmons’ elite passing and finishing ability, he should be able to fill that role well even in small spurts.

Simmons’ upside only increases in this series as long as Robert Williams remains sidelined for the Celtics with a meniscus tear in his left knee. At 6 feet and 10 inches, Simmons shouldn’t have many issues with Al Horford or Daniel Theis defending the rim. If Williams does return, as the Celtics have hinted he could be back by game 4 or 5, Simmons’ ability to finish at the rim would be hampered.

Series and Eastern Conference Betting Odds

As of this writing, the Nets are currently +120 odds at BetOnline to win the series, while the Celtics are -140. Brooklyn is +425 to win the Eastern Conference, while Championship odds are not currently listed. They are likely to be anywhere around +900.

This series is setting up to be the most intriguing of the first round. The recent news surrounding the status of Robert Williams and Ben Simmons hasn’t budged the opening series odds. While they’ve remained the same, keep an eye out for further reports before game one to see if that changes.

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