Steve Nash responds to report of Ben Simmons targeting Nets-Celtics Game 4 return: 'That's news to me'

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Ben Simmons cropped 3/26/22
Ben Simmons cropped 3/26/22

Nets head coach Steve Nash set the record straight after a report Wednesday by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said that Ben Simmons was targeting a Game 4 return for Brooklyn's first-round series against the Celtics.

"That's news to me," Nash said before Brooklyn looked to even the series with a 7 p.m. tip-off for Game 2 at TD Garden in Boston. "You know, I don't think we're targeting any game. I think we're trying to see how he develops, how he progresses and that's something that, with the recent history since the trade, has not been straightforward. So while it's exciting to see him on the floor and see him make progress, I don't think any of us are saying it's imminent.

"I think we're just going to sit back and support him and see how far he gets. And if he's able to play, that'd be great. But we're not -- we haven't penciled in anything or made any conclusions yet. I think he's got a long ways to go before he feels ready to play."

Wojnarowski reported, citing sources, that Simmons' practice progress this week made Game 4 -- which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. from Brooklyn's Barclays Center -- "a realistic target" to debut with the Nets.

"Game 3 hasn't been fully ruled out yet, but that would require Simmons to clear more hurdles in a much shorter window of time, sources said," Wojnarowski added, referencing Saturday's 7:30 p.m. tip-off at Barclays Center.

The Celtics earned a 1-0 lead by taking Game 1, 115-114, this past Sunday.

Boston edged Brooklyn on a layup by Jayson Tatum at the buzzer.

Simmons, 25, has not yet played in a game during the 2021-22 season.

The Nets acquired Simmons in a Feb. 10 trade with the 76ers that additionally landed Andre Drummond, Seth Curry and two future first-round NBA Draft picks for James Harden and Paul Millsap.