Guard/forward Ben Simmons has been out since before the All-Star break with a knee issue, but the Nets have no intention of shutting him down.
Simmons is clearly having a down year after missing all of last season. In 42 games, he is averaging career-lows of 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists.
- Vaughn added there’s no timetable on a Simmons return. “I don’t want to get into markers and what he’s doing on a daily basis, I just kind of want to put it all in the bucket of strengthening,” Vaughn said, via Lewis.
With continue good health and availability, coach Nick Nurse indicated the Raptors could make a run to the playoffs (and perhaps beyond).
I don’t think it matters that much where people are in the standings,” Nurse said, via Grange. “I mean, it does because they’re right around us and we are inside 20 games to go or something like that but, again, just trying to get us to play to our capabilities … if we do that and keep getting a little bit better, if we do that then we’re gonna have a really good chance every night we step out there and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
- In case you missed it, the Raptors added guard/forward Will Barton via the buyout market, as we relayed here. “He has played a lot in the league on a team that won a lot,” Nurse said, via Grange. “He’s an offense creator. He can play screen-and-roll. He can also shoot the 3. Made a bunch of them in his career. Those two things should help us.”
The Cavs’ playoff rotation is starting to take shape, coach J.B. Bickerstaff indicated.
“Eight, nine will probably be the most,” Bickerstaff said, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “It could depend on our opponent and what we need in the moment. Four of the five starters I think are going to end up playing heavy minutes. So now we’re just trying to piece the guys around them that night to fit the matchups best.”
“There are different lineups that we can play,” Bickerstaff said, via Fedor. “There are so many things that you can do with smaller guys where you can be more dynamic and be harder to guard. In my mind, it always goes back to the defensive end of the floor and what you do there.
“We still believe that our defense is going to be what separates us when we reach our potential. Don’t want to be in position where we take a step back defensively because we get minor gains on the offensive end.”