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In Maybe The Least Surprising News Ever, The Nets Officially Shut Ben Simmons Down For The Rest Of The Regular Season And The Play In Tournament

Elsa. Getty Images.

Is anyone truly surprised by this latest Ben Simmons update? Probably not. But just because it's not surprising does not mean it's not significant. This is what Shams had to say about this situation just 3 days ago

At that point, maybe there was some hope for Nets fans. That's sort of been the deal with Simmons all year when you think about it. Despite what we were seeing with our own eyes, despite all the reports that he wasn't ready, the possibility that he could be ready was something that gave Nets fans a glimmer of hope. With that all but shut down today by Nash combined with the latest update about Seth Curry

there's a legit reason for concern. All you have to do is look at where the Nets are currently slotted. Being in the 9/10 spot and not having the head to head tie breaker over the Hornets (in 9th), they run the risk of a random hot shooting night end their season and send them to the lottery. The good news is they finish the year with HOU/NYK/CLE/IND so in theory as long as KD and Kyrie exist there's a good shot they get up into the 8 spot, but that would need someone like the Hawks who have won 5 in a row to suddenly start dropping games. That's certainly not a guarantee. That's why not even having Simmons back for the play in is a big deal. The biggest issue with the Nets is their inability to literally stop anyone from scoring. They have the 20th ranked defense on the season and over the last few weeks or so they are giving up an insane amount of points (117 since 3/16). That's one area where in theory you were helping a Simmons return could help fix. Despite whatever offensive limitation you may think Simmons has, there's no denying how impactful he is as a defender. Once you start getting into a play in situation where all it can take is one hot shooting night to end your season, defense becomes even more important. We've seen games where KD/Kyrie combine for 80+ points and it's still not enough because they cannot get stops on the other end. 

My question is this. Let's say the Nets survive the play in and end up in the 7 or 8 seed. If Simmons is still "far" from playing, I think it's a stretch to think he'll be ready for playoff basketball in 12 days right? It feels more likely that the Nets know he's cooked for the year and not just these last few games but they are holding off announcing it until they have to. I just think there's a huge gap between some light on court work in practice and the NBA playoffs, especially if you don't have any games to ramp up and get your legs under you. That obviously changes how the Nets look as a potential playoff opponent. Kyrie and KD are definitely still terrifying, if they get Seth Curry back and healthy, that's an offense that will still keep you up at night. 

But things tend to slow down in the playoffs. Defense matters. Teams try for 48 minutes as opposed to the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter. You have to be able to stop someone from scoring once we get to this part of the NBA calendar. If something is going to do the Nets in, it's their inability to do just that. 

Now that we've had a few months to look at this trade, when it happened it felt like both sides came out winners. The Sixers got their guy to pair with Embiid and out of the Ben Simmons business, and the Nets brought in additional depth and a guy who had the potential to be a great fit next to their two best players. Now? Neither team has really elevated themselves. The Sixers are scratching and clawing to stay in the top 4 in the East with Harden suddenly not exactly looking lights out anymore, and the Nets are on the verge of entering the lottery. Pretty crazy when you think about how this trade was talked about when it happened in February. 

Who knows, maybe the Nets go on a run and we see Simmons make his debut later in the postseason. That's probably the last life line Nets fans have because right now, at this moment, it looks like a lost season.