Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons is set to make his return against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night after missing five games due to left knee swelling.
Simmons told media on Monday that he “feels great” and that “it took a few days to get some rehab in, get it right. I’ll be in tonight. I think I’ve got like 20 minutes.”
The 26-year-old has averaged 6.2 points, is shooting 44.1 from the field, 6.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists in the six games he has played this season and thinks the rehab of his knee, combined with that of offseason back surgery, has been affecting his performance on the court.
“I don’t want to make that an excuse, but I had a swollen knee,” Simmons said. “It is what it is, but it’s taken care of now, so I’m glad I’m moving.”
Although the Nets have won their last two games against the Wizards and Hornets on the road without Kyrie Irving, they now face the machine that is Luka Dončić on his home court.
Dončić is averaging 35 points, 7.8 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game at home this season and is the leading point scorer overall in the league.
“Stick to our game plan defensively, stay focused on that and then it’s team presence you know, you just gotta feel everybody around him you just gotta make it tough for him,” Simmons said of Dončić.
“I don’t think he’s a guy you’re going to completely stop but you can make it tough,” Simmons continued.
“It’s one of those things where you don’t know what he’s going to do but you just hope to make the right reads.”
NBA on ESPN discussed Simmons’ return this morning and former NBA champion Matt Barnes claimed that “a healthy Ben Simmons can give anybody problems.”
“I mean, he’s given Giannis problems, he can definitely give Luka problems but I think the keyword is health,” Barnes explained.
“We haven’t seen a consistency of him yet and…he hasn’t reached his defensive prowess we’ve seen in the past but with that said, there’s no one in the world that can stop Luka.”
The Nets play Dallas tonight, before returning home to play the Knicks on Wednesday and then have four games (Clippers, Lakers, Kings and Trailblazers) on the road.