Ime Udoka doesn't seem concerned about Ben Simmons' potential return


The latest reports indicate Ben Simmons could make his Brooklyn Nets debut as early as Game 4 in their first-round NBA playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

Ime Udoka apparently isn't putting too much stock in those reports.

The Celtics head coach was asked Thursday if he and his staff have spent any time preparing for the possibility of facing Simmons in this series.

Udoka's response: "None yet."

Game 1 isn't until Sunday afternoon at TD Garden, so maybe the Celtics will do a little preparation on Simmons in the next day or two. But the fact that they've devoted zero energy to Simmons since Tuesday suggests they aren't banking on him making an outsized impact in this series, if he plays at all.

We don't blame Udoka here: The C's can't watch film on Simmons in a Nets uniform, because it doesn't exist. The three-time All-Star hasn't played since Game 7 of the Philadelphia 76ers' second-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

Simmons scored just five points in that Game 7 loss and has been sidelined nearly 10 months due to a back injury and mental health reasons. After holding out on the Sixers during the 2021 season, Simmons forced a trade to Brooklyn, where he has yet to participate in on-court team activities: According to Nets head coach Steve Nash, Simmons is still doing individual rehab work and hasn't even done any sprinting.

The Nets reportedly are hoping to ramp Simmons up in the coming days, and there are 11 days between now and Game 4 on April 25. Even if he doesn't contribute on the offensive end, Simmons could provide value simply by playing 10-to-15 minutes of quality defense on Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

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The three-time All-Star doesn't seem high on Boston's priority list, though.

"If [Simmons plays], we cross that bridge when we get there," Tatum told reporters Wednesday. "But right now we're just focusing on the guys that they've got at this moment."

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