Australian NBA star Ben Simmons has had successful back surgery and will begin rehab in three weeks, aiming to make his Nets debut in the 2022-23 pre-season.
Ben Simmons’ NBA season is over without playing a single minute as the Boston Celtics completed a stunning four-game NBA play-offs sweep of the highly-fancied Brooklyn Nets.
Boston became the first team to reach the second round of the post-season with a 116-112 road victory that clinched a 4-0 series whitewash.
Jayson Tatum scored 29 points, Jaylen Brown had 22 and Marcus Smart added 20 points and 11 assists for the No.2-seeded Celtics, who made easy work of what was thought could be a tough series.
“It’s funny to us, because we don’t duck and dodge anybody,” Smart said. “We knew what we were going to come in here and do.”
Boston will wait for the winner of the series between Milwaukee and Chicago. The defending champion Bucks hold a 3-1 lead in that series.
Kevin Durant had 39 points, nine assists and seven rebounds but it wasn’t enough to rein in Boston as the Nets succumbed in what is ultimately a massive failure of a season for a team expected to contend for the title.
Kyrie Irving, whose unavailability for home games much of the season because he isn’t vaccinated against the coronavirus contributed to the Nets performing so far below expectations, had 20 points while Seth Curry, a trade acquisition late in the season along with Simmons from Philadelphia, had 23.
The Nets hoped they could have Simmons make his debut for them in the must-win game but he was ruled out Sunday with more pain in his back.
Coach Steve Nash said he didn’t want to speak for Simmons but acknowledged there was a mental side beyond the physical problems the Australian is facing.
Simmons cited mental health concerns as a reason he sought to leave Philadelphia and didn’t suit up for the 76ers or Brooklyn this season.
“As far as an organisation, we’re really pushing to support Ben in any way we can to help him improve physically and get back on the court, and then the mental side of that is part and parcel.,” Nash said.
“They’re not separate, they’re not something that we don’t want to deal with. We want to help if he needs help in any aspect of his life and his game.”
Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors are returning home to host Game 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers after winning on the road 103-88.
The Raptors have won two straight to extend their eastern conference series and jumped all over injured Sixers centre Joel Embiid and the ineffective James Harden to make Thursday night’s game a necessity.