Brooklyn Nets All-Star forward Ben Simmons has not suited up for the team since they returned from All-Star break in February. Simmons initially was dealing with knee soreness, but amid his recovery, he suffered a flare-up in his back, which was surgically corrected last May.
It has been over a month since Simmons has played, and the Nets still don’t have a concrete return date for the former Defensive Player of the Year finalist. Per Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn, Simmons will miss the team’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 14 to close out their road trip and will get re-evaluated once the team returns to Brooklyn.
“Yeah, I think first of all I’ll just be pretty simple. He’s still managing his back and knee soreness,” Vaughn said on March 13 to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “He’s back home in Brooklyn. We’ll get a chance to kind of see where he’s at when we get back home after this trip.”
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Mikal Bridges Sounds off on ‘Unbelievable’ Nets
There were questions about how efficient the Nets would be after trading Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns and Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks. Despite being devoid of an All-Star talent, the Nets have managed to stay afloat and, at 39-29, have a better record than both the Suns (37-30) and the Mavs (34-34).
It has taken them some time, but it appears the Nets are starting to put the pieces together as the playoffs draw near. Newly acquired Nets starter Mikal Bridges says it’s “unbelievable” how quickly the Nets have begun to gel.
“The biggest thing is just staying together. It’s just unbelievable to see with just the little bit of time we’ve had together. Them little awakenings right there where listen, we got short time we got to figure this out and that’s where it was. Just little meetings and talking and figuring out our offense and our defense and we just had to move quickly. And that’s what we did.” Bridges said after the team’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 10 .
“But we were all confident when we all came here, and we were put together, and just kind of had that mentality, ‘OK, a lot of us got traded, so you feel some type of way, and you just want to go out there and hoop.’ It’s just crazy how fast it’s [come together] where we just stick together no matter what the situation is, being down 13, then making runs and keeping that lead.”
Spencer Dinwiddie Gets Honest on Mikal Bridges
Bridges has played perhaps the greatest role in the Nets’ staying afloat. He has averaged 25.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in 13 games he has played for Brooklyn this season. In six of those games, he has scored at least 30 points, including a career-high 45-point explosion against the Miami Heat on February 15. Bridges is not usually among the household names of NBA players, but since joining the Nets, he has played at a superstar level. His play has come as a surprise to many, including his teammate, Spencer Dinwiddie.
“Defensively I’d say we knew this was our identity. I don’t think anybody knew that Mikal was this amazing offensively. Just being completely real,” Dinwiddie said of Bridges.
“It is our job that he can get to his spots and get his shots and continue to stack up these 30s as much as he possibly can. We’ve got to feed that, encourage that, and then for me the coaches want me to just get in the paint.”