The Boston Celtics are set to take on the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. After the Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Play-In, they earned the seventh seed in the East. This will be the second year in a row that the two teams faced off in Round 1 of the playoffs, with Brooklyn winning in five last season.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving combined to score 59 points in their win over Cleveland. Those two alone make the Nets an offensive powerhouse. Boston has also become an offensive juggernaut toward the end of the season on the back of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Where the two teams differ, however, is on the defensive end.
Boston clocked in as the league’s top defense this season, while the Nets ended up close to the bottom ten. A big part of that was injuries, but regardless, the sheer talent difference on that side of the floor alone is staggering. However, the Nets might be getting some big-time reinforcements very soon.
Over the past few days, there have been a multitude of reports saying that three-time All-Star Ben Simmons could make his return in the first round. And based on Simmons’ recent Instagram Story post, he could be getting ready to hit the hardwood again.
Simmons’ Cryptic Instagram Post
On April 14, Simmons posted an Instagram Story showing off his shoes, and it was clear that he was on a basketball court. Included in the Story was the emoji with steam coming out of its nose, which is commonly associated with triumph and/or hard work.
NBA on ESPN reposted the Story to their page with the caption “Ben Simmons IG Story👀.” Clearly, the post sparked intrigue, as the implication is that Simmons could be gearing up for a return to the court. Simmons hasn’t played in an NBA game since last year’s postseason when the Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks.
Since then, he sat out the entire first half of the season, was traded to the Nets, and has been dealing with a herniated disc in his back. But based on his Story and some recent reports, it may not be long before we see Simmons back out there.
Reports Indicate a Simmons Return
According to The Athletic, sources told NBA insider Shams Charania that there has been growing optimism that Simmons could make his season debut in the first round of the playoffs. The reports indicated that he could be back as soon as Game 3.
When asked, Nets head coach Steve Nash denied these claims, saying that there is still “no update on the timetable” for Simmons’ return. However, he did acknowledge the reports that stated there has been “heavier progress” as of late. He stated that Simmons has made more progress in the last week than he had in the three weeks before that.
Combine Simmons’ Instagram Story with the varying reports indicating his return, and it might be inevitable that Simmons makes his return in the first round. His transition into the lineup would be far from seamless, but at the very least, he would give the Nets a massive defensive boost.