With news making the rounds that Ben Simmons will sit out Game 2, Stephen A. Smith wasted no time expressing his displeasure.
On the latest episode of ESPN’s “First Take,” he pointed out that the Brooklyn Nets need to take a different approach. Smith suggested that Simmons either needs to play or forfeit his salary, stating:
“I don’t want to hear anything about this dude that’s just stealing money, whatever amount of money he’s getting, whatever grievance he’s filled, just stealing money, getting paid for doing absolutely positively nothing.
“To put it in perspective, Doggy and myself have played just as minutes as Ben Simmons this entire season. That’s unacceptable.”
Smith implored the Brooklyn Nets to stop coddling Simmons. He thinks Simmons should get back on the floor and contribute whatever he’s able to. Smith said:
“If Ben Simmons can give you 15 to 20 minutes playing defense, don’t shoot the basketball, just give you 15 minutes to 20 minutes of defense, that’s good enough for me because they have enough offense with Kyrie (Irving) and KD (Kevin Durant).”
The Brooklyn Nets will continue their campaign without Ben Simmons as they take on the Boston Celtics in Game 2 at TD Garden later tonight. His lack of availability has continued to infuriate fans.
Since the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals, Simmons has not played a competitive game of basketball. The issues started with him trying to force his way out of the Philadelphia 76ers organization, but he has recently appeared on the injury report due to back soreness.
The Nets are down 1-0 in the series and need all the help they can get to turn it around. Although they have two of the best scorers in the league, they have struggled defensively.
Can the Brooklyn Nets win the series against the Boston Celtics without Ben Simmons?
The Nets are not a great defensive unit. Although they made an effort to shore up their defense during the offseason, they finished the regular season 19th in defensive rating.
That is the edge that Simmons could bring, even though he might be a liability on offense. He is one of the best defenders in the league and can guard one through five.
Nonetheless, the Nets stand a good chance of winning the series against the Celtics. Their offense could make the difference.
Based on how things played out in Game 1, the Nets will fancy their chances of taking Game 2. They went head-to-head against the dogged Celtics defense and lost only after a Jayson Tatum buzzer-beater. Kevin Durant had a poor outing and will almost certainly bounce back.
ESPN has reported that Simmons is still ramping up and could return for Game 4. But even without Simmons, the Nets have the personnel to grind out four victories in this series.