Here's when Simmons could play in Celtics vs. Nets playoff series, per report


The upcoming first-round NBA playoff series between the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets is already loaded with star power, and the matchup could get an even bigger dose of that if a few injured players return to the court.

One of those injured stars is Ben Simmons, who still hasn't played for the Nets since they acquired him from the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the James Harden trade. In fact, Simmons hasn't played one game this season. He wanted a trade from the Sixers and ultimately got his wish. 

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His last appearance was Game 7 of the second round last season when the 76ers lost at home to the Atlanta Hawks. Simmons played poorly in that loss and was criticized throughout the offseason as a result.

Will we see him in the series against the Celtics?

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported a Simmons update Thursday morning on "Get Up!", saying that the veteran point guard could come back as early as Game 4.

"I am told they are targeting Games 4, 5 or 6 of this upcoming series against the Celtics for a Ben Simmons debut with the Nets," Windhorst said. "As soon as I heard that, I said is he even playing 5-on-5 yet? The answer is no, but they're hoping to ramp him up in the next few days, and if there are no setbacks, they are expecting that Ben Simmons will be available at some point in this series."

It's hard to say what kind of impact Simmons would make after not playing for almost a full year. He's limited offensively, but defensively he's one of the best players in the league. Can he give the Nets 10-20 minutes of good defense on Jayson Tatum, while running the offense and exceling in transition? That's probably the best-case scenario for Simmons in this series.

The Celtics could also get an important player back in Round 1. Starting center Robert Williams III had surgery to repair a torn meniscus last month, and according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, there's a "very real" possibility that Time Lord plays in this series.

Whether Simmons and/or Williams return to the lineup before this series ends is a storyline to keep a close eye on. This series is expected to be a very competitive one that likely will go six or seven games. If that scenario plays out, Williams or Simmons coming back could swing the matchup in one team's favor.

Game 1 is Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

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