Showdown time as Ben Simmons readies for 76ers grudge match

Ben Simmons will face boos and jeers when he returns to Philadephia.

Ben Simmons will face boos and jeers when he returns to Philadephia. Photo: AAP

Ben Simmons is expected to play against his former team in Philadelphia when the Brooklyn Nets face the 76ers on Saturday night.

Simmons is listed as probable for the contest after taking part in some of Friday’s practice. He is dealing with a left knee contusion that caused him to miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.

Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn told reporters the Nets were counting on the Australian star being available.

“I hope to see him playing,” Vaughn said. “That’s the inclination for this group.”

Simmons sat out 38 straight games due to a back injury before returning to play in Monday’s 147-114 rout of the visiting Utah Jazz. He had 10 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes.

Simmons, 27, was a three-time All-Star in four on-court seasons with the 76ers after being the No.1 overall pick in the 2016 draft.

He missed his first season with a foot injury and didn’t play in 2021-22 due to a back injury and mental health issues, as well as requesting a trade.

Rough but ready

Simmons had a rough series when the 76ers were upset by the Atlanta Hawks in seven games during the 2021 Eastern Conference semi-finals. In Game 5, he made just 4 of 14 free-throw attempts during a 109-106 home loss. He was also reluctant to take shots from the field.

After the fallout, Simmons requested a trade, which irked Philadelphia fans. He eventually was dealt to the Nets in February 2022 in the trade that brought the now-departed James Harden to the 76ers.

Last season, Simmons made two trips to Philadelphia and was booed throughout the contests. He averaged 11.5 points, 8.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds in the two games.

Simmons is averaging 7.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 7.3 assists in seven games this season.


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