Ben Simmons plans to debut in Nets' Game 4 vs. Celtics: report

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Report: Simmons plans to debut in Nets-Celtics Game 4 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Ben Simmons is reportedly set to make his 2021-22 season debut during a game that's not close to meaningless.

Simmons plans to play Monday in Game 4 of the Nets' first-round playoff series against the Celtics as long as his rehab "remains on course," The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Thursday.

Before Brooklyn dropped to a 2-0 series deficit with a loss Wednesday night in Boston, Nets head coach Steve Nash responded to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Game 4 was a realistic target date for Simmons by telling reporters, "That's news to me," noting the 25-year-old had "a long ways to go before he feels ready to play."

So, we'll see whether Simmons is indeed active for a high-stakes playoff contest. He's yet to play since the Sixers' Game 7 postseason loss to the Hawks last June.

Since then, the three-time All-Star has been exceptionally newsworthy. Before being dealt to the Nets in February for a package centered around James Harden, Simmons requested a trade, held out of training camp, got kicked out of a practice and suspended for the Sixers' opener, and told the team he wasn't mentally ready to play.

While ramping up his conditioning, Simmons was bothered by a back injury. He received an epidural injection in March. Though Simmons was generally a durable player with the Sixers, he experienced significant back problems in Philadelphia. Former Sixers head coach Brett Brown recalled that Simmons was "vomiting primarily because of pain" after a back injury in February of 2020.

After many months for Simmons on the sidelines, last year's Defensive Player of the Year runner-up is reportedly on track to return soon. Meanwhile, Harden and the Sixers will try to sweep their first-round matchup with the Raptors on Saturday afternoon.