Nets risk ‘continuity’ with return of Ben Simmons: Stan Van Gundy

Despite two losses, Stan Van Gundy has admired the Nets’ competitiveness in their first two games against the Celtics. He views the Nets’ lineup as hastily thrown together with no time to shuffle.

As a result, despite being a huge Ben Simmons fan, Van Gundy can’t imagine the enigmatic 6-11 guard would make much of a difference.

Simmons is expected to make his long-awaited season and Nets debut in Game 4 on Monday. But will Simmons morph into yet another new body thrown into an already chaotic mix?

Van Gundy, who announced the Nets loss of Game 2 and will be back for Monday’s TNT broadcast of Game 4, said Nets coach Steve Nash was dealt a bad hand going into the playoffs. After trailing 2-0, the Nets return to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Saturday.

“I know people have criticized Steve Nash,” Van Gundy told the Post. “I just laughed. The expectations are ridiculous.”

Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons will make his Nets debut on Monday.
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The Nets, now winning the title, were forced to sell a disgruntled James Harden to Philly at the February close, adding Seth Curry and an injured Simmons, who has not played since June 2021.

“I’ve always been one of[Ben’s]biggest advocates — I love him,” said Van Gundy. “He’s one of three, four guys in the league who can really defend 1-5. He was one of the best defensive players in recent years. He can really recover. He can help them transition and he’s a pass-first guy who’s very creative. But he hasn’t played a minute with any of these guys.

“He’s not a plug and play guy because he’s not a shooter. You really need to put in some time to get your station right. Not so much when he has the ball as when he doesn’t have the ball. Does he play with a center where you put (Andre) Drummond or (Nic) Claxton on the floor? These things are not that simple.”

Ben Simmons
Van Gundy believes Simmons won’t be the solution to the Nets’ cohesion woes.
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Roster and back problems aside, no one knows if Simmons’ mental block to shooting the ball has gone in the last 11 months.

“He has a good pick and roll game with him as a screener,” added Van Gundy. “But when are you going to develop this? On the fly during a game in the middle of the playoffs against a team like Boston?

The Celtics, says Van Gundy, are a well-oiled machine compared to the Nets, who have cobbled together a rotation over the past two months – all part of the domino effect of Kyrie Irving’s decision not to get vaccinated.

“What they’re trying to achieve is almost unprecedented,” said the longtime NBA coach. “They basically play with eight guys. Four of the guys in their rotation haven’t played 30 games with them. Curry, Drummond went on sale. Kyrie couldn’t play all year (full time). And Goran Dragic hardly played.

“They play all these guys who haven’t had time together. And Boston is a really good team that’s underrated all year round. They were by far – and it’s nowhere near – the best team in the East in the second half of the year.”

Irving’s refusal to vaccinate resulted in him playing 29 games. It prompted Harden to ask out and possibly wore Durant down, who is fighting for the series at 13 out of 44.

Van Gundy credits Boston’s ‘incredible defense’ which has collapsed on KD. But he says it’s apparent there’s not enough sympathy on the court to get more “movement” to play different sets for the Hall-of-Famer to make life easier.

“There’s no question, that’s been a big part of this season,” Van Gundy said of Irving’s decisions. “They didn’t have the continuity on the floor to develop great chemistry. And I think it causes players – rightly or wrongly – to question his commitment to the team. So trust is waning. It was an extremely difficult situation. But I thought they played really well in the two games.”

“(Wednesday) was the hardest thing I’ve ever played for 48 minutes all year. So think it’s far from over when they go home.” Nets risk ‘continuity’ with return of Ben Simmons: Stan Van Gundy


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