Ben Simmons Finally Plays but, the Nets Lose Again

Ben Simmons Finally Plays but, the Nets Lose Again

Ben Simmons smiled and chuckled about the best way he had been appearing all day. Wednesday was the primary time in 16 months that he had performed in a significant basketball sport, and he appeared positively effervescent.

“I feel I used to be simply too excited, truthfully,” he stated Wednesday evening at Barclays Heart. “It was simply nice to be on the market.”

The outing didn’t go particularly properly. Simmons scored solely 4 factors and fouled out, maybe a performance of his enthusiasm and his workforce misplaced, 130-108, to the New Orleans Pelicans within the N.B.A. season opener for each group.

He was a bit rusty having missed all of the final season with psychological and bodily well-being issues, beginning in Philadelphia earlier than he was traded to Brooklyn. However simply the truth that Simmons performed within the sport was momentous.

His availability is emblematic of the place the Nets discover themselves first of this season. Kevin Durant continues to be in the workforce. Kyrie Irving needs to be obtainable all season. And now Simmons is wholesome.

This season may provide a closing phrase on what the Durant-Irving Nets might be and the way they reply to the stress of getting the items in place to be actual contenders.

“Now you’ll be able to see who we actually are,” Nets ahead Markieff Morris stated. “Would you quite be a workforce in the place you’ve got championship aspirations and numerous stress on you to win? Or would you quite be a workforce that’s tanking making an attempt to get the No. 1 choice? You bought to choose your poison in this league. Taking part in stress is an efficient factor.”

It has been three years since Durant and Irving were selected to hitch the Nets in free company. Their arrival demanded persistence, at first as a result of Durant was working by an Achilles’ harm that will trigger him to overlook your entire 2019-20 season.

That season was additionally interrupted by the onset of the pandemic, and when the season completed within the N.B.A. bubble, Irving didn’t be part of the workforce as he recovered from harm.

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The 2020-21 season was brief, however the Nets completed it with the second-best file within the Jap Convention. James Harden had joined them by commerce in January. They misplaced the convention semifinals in seven video games to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks.

Then all the things unraveled.

Irving determined he wouldn’t get vaccinated in opposition to the coronavirus, which meant he couldn’t play any dwelling video games due to an area mandate. The Nets stated they didn’t need a part-time participant, till they did.

They later didn’t conform to most contract extensions with Irving once they may have, and Irving affirmed his participant choice to remain in Brooklyn for the ultimate 12 months of his contract.

Annoyed by Irving, Harden requested commerce and received it, swapping locations with Simmons, after which extra persistence grew to become needed. Simmons, who hadn’t felt mentally in a position to play till the commerce, missed the remainder of the season with an again harm that required a surgical procedure. He spent the low season therapeutic and stated he felt absolutely wholesome firstly of coaching camp.

This summer season’s closing drama for the Nets got here when Durant requested commerce in July. The Nets by no means discovered the proper provide if such a factor even existed for a participant of his caliber. Reviews surfaced that Durant had needed Common Supervisor Sean Marks and Coach Steve Nash fired.

Durant has not confirmed these experiences, and Nash referred to the entire episode as if it had been a household disagreement.

The silver lining of a low season that threatened the workforce’s stability was that the Nets had been returning with two of the very best gamers within the sport and a 3rd extra gifted than most within the league.

All that’s left is for them to show they’ll truly do that.

Wednesday’s sport supplied an inauspicious begin to that quest. The Nets trailed the Pelicans by as many as 26 factors and had been outscored by 36-4 on second-chance factors, a symptom of inconsistent effort.

“The identical perform that demoralizes the followers at dwelling demoralizes us as gamers,” Irving stated.

Pelicans ahead Zion Williamson, like Simmons, returned after lacking all of the final season, in his case with a foot harm. He was regarded as much less rusty than Simmons did, scoring 25 factors, and New Orleans took benefit of his play.

“I feel they beat us in each class tonight,” Nash stated. “Clearly, we began the sport a bit hectic, a bit of bit rattled to begin the 12 months. Typically that’s regular. First evening out pleasure. New group. It was a bit clunky on occasions.”

Durant led all scorers with 32 factors, making 11 of 21 pictures, with 4 blocks, a steal, two assists and three rebounds.

If one had been to overreact to a gap evening end result, one may say these Nets are in large hassle. However, the best way they performed Wednesday didn’t match how they performed in preseason video games, maybe hinting at their capacity to play significantly better.

There have been flashes of positivity in Wednesday’s sport as properly. On one play, Irving darted in the entrance of Larry Nance Jr. to steal the ball and throw it to Simmons for a dunk.

However to compete within the East this season can be no straightforward job. Milwaukee, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, continues to be as formidable because it was two years in the past when it gained the N.B.A. championship.

The Boston Celtics appear decided to enhance upon final 12 months’ finals loss to Golden State. The Philadelphia 76ers, led by Joel Embiid and Harden, can even problem for supremacy within the convention.

Within the waning seconds of Wednesday’s sport, Durant sat all the best way again in a seat on the bench with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled up tightly over his head. Often, he turned to Simmons, who sat subsequent to him, and stated one thing as they watched the Pelicans full their 22-point victory.

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