Nets’ Ben Simmons absence Monday vs. Warriors precautionary



Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn clarified that Ben Simmons‘ absence from Monday’s game against the Golden State Warriors was strictly for precautionary reasons.

The three-time All-Star, now two appearances removed from a 38-game absence because of a pinched nerve in his lower back, will return to the court on Tuesday when Brooklyn faces the Dallas Mavericks at Barclays Center. It will also be Kyrie Irving’s first time facing the Nets since being traded to Dallas last season in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and future draft picks.

“Today’s game is just injury maintenance and [Ben] is scheduled to play tomorrow,” Vaughn said.

Simmons, 27, has averaged 5.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists across his first two appearances post-injury. The Nets won both games by an average margin of 24 points while tallying season-best assist totals.

Knowing Simmons would not play on Monday made game planning a little simpler for Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and his staff. And while the Nets’ record may not reflect it, Kerr had plenty of positive comments about how the team is currently constructed.

“To be honest I haven’t seen [Ben] because we knew he was out tonight,” Kerr said. “So the games that I’ve watched the last couple of days were not ones that included him, and he didn’t play when we saw them last month, either.

“I coached Mikal [Bridges] last summer. I know his game pretty well. He’s a fantastic defensive player and he’s really blossomed into an excellent offensive player. And then Cam [Thomas], I think he had 40 on us last game in San Francisco. He’s a really dynamic scorer. He’s got a strong body. It’s hard to knock him off his base. And this team, when you prepare for them, that’s what jumps out. It’s just a number of wings and big guards they have, all of whom can shoot 3s, switch. And so those two guys in particular are excellent players.”

INJURY UPDATES

Dorian Finney-Smith (left ankle sprain) is still considered day-to-day. He missed his fourth straight game on Monday and is not on track to play Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks, either.

Monday marked 30 days since Day’Ron Sharpe suffered a left knee hyperextension against the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 7. There is still no timetable for when he will return to the court.

Dennis Smith Jr. (right foot soreness) was available to play in Monday’s game against Golden State after missing Saturday’s road game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

TRADE DEADLINE NEARING

The NBA’s trade deadline is Thursday and numerous Nets players have been attached to different rumors. Trades are a part of the business of the NBA, but that does not make this time of year any easier for Vaughn or his players. But dealing with it is part of being a professional.

“Yeah, it is always an atmosphere, environment that you have to deal with this time of year,” Vaughn said “The more and more years you’re around this, I think you mentally could put yourself in a position of just handling what you can handle and taking care of what you can. The controllable things like today’s game: The trade deadline has nothing to do with today’s game. You’re scheduled to play today, lace ’em up and play. But I do think there is some psychological for each individual this time of year. So as a coach, yes, I do want to get through Thursday and move on to the next phase of the season.”



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