Pain-free Ben Simmons ready to ‘push’ to next level – The Denver Post


After missing four straight games with swelling in his left knee, Nets star Ben Simmons said he felt no pain on the court against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

“It was good to get out there and that was the main thing for me,” said Simmons. “Just to have no pain, get up and down the floor, sprint, run, jump — so that felt good.”

Simmons, who is still recovering from off-season back surgery and missed the entire 2021-22 NBA season, played 16 impactless minutes against the Mavericks and finished with two points, three rebounds, two assists and two turnovers.

“I’m my own harshest critic, so I think [I played] terrible,” Simmons said. “Like there’s a place I want to get to so I gotta keep working. I’ve gotta keep pushing myself and adapting.

“I’ll get there.”

Simmons said the key to getting back to his All-Star form is continuing to push himself.

He is continuing to shake off the rust after spending 470 days off the court due to a combination of mental health issues in Philadelphia with the 76ers and a herniated disk that ended his year in Brooklyn after the midseason mega trade involving James Harden.

Through seven games, Simmons is averaging 5.6 points, 6.6 assists, six rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. He has been in foul trouble more often than not and is only averaging 5.3 field goal attempts per game, a point of contention for a Nets team that needs Simmons to be more aggressive putting pressure on the rim to open up the offense in his minutes on the floor.

“[I have to] keep pushing myself,” Simmons said on Monday. “It would be easy for me to just give up and stop and settle, but that’s just not who I am.”

Simmons also said he’s still working to get back into optimal game shape, but that is will be easy for him to get back.

“When you have back surgery, and then you’re dealing with your knee, it’s tough,” he said. “But it’s the cards I was dealt, so I’ve gotta push through it.”

He told reporters in Dallas his injuries are responsible for his slow start to the season.

“I don’t want to make that an excuse, but I had a swollen knee,” he said. “It is what it is, but it’s taken care of now.”

Both Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn and star forward Kevin Durant said they were pleased with how Simmons played with pace on Monday.

Simmons had fluid drained from his left knee to alleviate the swelling last week, and in his first game back after missing four straight, he played with the burst of speed that hadn’t been seen in any of his previous outings.

“I thought he moved well,” said Durant, who smoked a free throw in the final seconds of the Nets’ 96-94 loss to the Mavericks on Monday. “I thought he got up and down the court. He’s been out for a week now, so it’s only gonna get better.”

“Great to see him out on the floor,” Vaughn added. “Put him out there with a group that could play fast, hopefully some shooters around him. In that stretch [with Ben on the floor], we didn’t make a lot of shots, but overall, I thought seeing him back on the floor, he played with speed, he played with pace, which is good.”

Simmons will play against the Knicks on Wednesday.



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