The Brooklyn Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn stated that Ben Simmons will be day-to-day with left knee soreness.
"He had some left knee soreness, that same knee. He asked to be pulled out of the game. We'll check him day-by-day," Vaugh said postgame. "See how he responds with a little treatment and see how it looks tomorrow."
The left knee soreness reappears during a 6-0 scoring run in the second quarter of the Nets' 109-102 win over the Orlando Magic Monday night. At the 9:03 mark of the second quarter, Simmons signaled to come out of the game and went straight to the locker room. He remained in the locker room for the remainder of the first half and the team officially ruled him out for the rest of the game at halftime.
Vaughn does not expect Simmons to undergo any additional imaging on his left knee to go with the treatment he'll receive. The Nets head coach credits the accumulation of minutes and games across the recent stretch as the main factor for Simmons' knee soreness returning. He has played 30+ minutes in six of the seven games coming off his injury battle.
"I think more than anything, the accumulation of games," said Vaughn postgame. "He hasn't had this amount of accumulation of games over a period in a long time. I talked to the performance team about that. We were warned about it a little bit as these games add up. His cumulative load begins to add up. It's really stretching him sometimes. The amount of games we had with the minutes that he's played was pretty high going into tonight's game."
Now that there is a good chance Simmons will miss at least Wednesday's game against the Washington Wizards, the Nets will need to go even smaller without their main small-ball center in the lineup. Kevin Durant praised Vaughn's adjustments he made after Simmons exited the game Monday night and spoke about what changes if his star teammate is unavailable.
“We’ve just gotta play smaller. I mean, you know, he's one of our bigs out there," said Durant on what changes without Simmons on the floor. "So I thought coach did a good job with trying to figure out the small lineup on the fly. We’ve got to play a little faster. And I think we all just got to do a good job of game rebounding and doing the little stuff when he's not out there. So we have practice in with him not being in the lineup, and we was able to figure some stuff out. So something drastic as this, leaving in the first quarter, we was able to make an adjustment.”
The Nets superstar guard Kyrie Irving was pleased that Simmons alerted the coaching staff to be pulled from the game and sat out the remainder of the contest. Irving is hopeful Simmons can play against the Wizards but the focus for him is to come back when he's as healthy as possible.
“Well health is the number one priority, so we want him to be at his best," said Irving on Simmons postgame. "I’m glad that our medical staff, coaching staff, him himself, we all agreed that he would sit down in the second half, just to save him for games that matter going into the future, not saying that these games don’t matter, but games that we’re going to need him most. But when he’s not out there we don’t have our point forward, or our point guard, you know being able to initiate easy opportunities, push the ball in transition. So we’ll definitely miss him in the lineup, hopefully he comes back next game, but if he’s dealing with it we just want him to get as healthy as possible and we’ll figure it out.”
Simmons initally missed a total of five games due to left knee soreness. In that span, the Nets swingman had an MRI done, which came back clean, and had his knee drained to relieve some of the swelling. The 26 year-old was beginning to find his grove in the seven games since returning from the injury. He recorded a season-high 20 points in 34 minutes against the Indiana Pacers on Friday.