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After a long 470 days away from the hardwood, Ben Simmons finally made his Nets debut Monday night. To make things even sweeter, it came against his former team, the Sixers, but a shell of the star-studded eastern conference contender. The night didn't conclude in a win but all Brooklyn care about is starting their championship aspirations with a healthy 'Big 3.' 

Simmons, who played only 19 first-half minutes in Brooklyn's preseason opener loss to Philadelphia, showed flashes of his star play. His first bucket was a fast-break dunk off a Kyrie Irving bounce pass at the 9:16 mark of the first quarter, and he followed it up with eye-popping speed, chasing down Matisse Thybulle in transition. In the grand scheme of things, his debut was about dusting off the rust, getting acclimated to his new personnel, and getting out of the unofficial contest healthy. 

“Amazing," said Simmons on how he felt fresh off his Nets debut. "I’m grateful just to be able to step on an NBA floor again. I had a lot of fun out there. I thought I would be nervous but I wasn’t nervous. I was excited. To have that feeling to be able to come out and know you are going to play on an NBA floor, especially at Barclays with some great players. It’s excitement. Really didn’t have any nerves.”

The 26-year-old, who finished with six points, a team-high five assists, and four boards in the preseason opener, breathed confidence throughout Brooklyn's six-day training camp in Industry City, commonly stating he's put himself in a place both physically and mentally to perform at his highest level over the course of the offseason. 

“Well anytime anybody comes back it’s going to take some time," said Kyrie Irving on Simmons' return. "He’s gonna love getting up and down the floor with us ... But for him to be out there for his first game, and for us to experience it with him, it’s something that we can remember for the rest of the season and it’s something that we got through. You know this is Day 1, highly anticipated, I’m glad that it went his way tonight on some easy baskets and he made some great plays, but obviously, he knows he has a ways to go before he gets to feeling like his true self. 

When the halftime buzzer sounded, it was Steve Nash's queue to take Simmons off the floor and rest him for the remainder of the contest with his other two superstars, Kevin Durant and Irving. Brooklyn's 'Big 3' played 19 minutes each and played alongside each other for a majority of their time on the court. 

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“Just more reps I think, just more game time. He looked great to me," said Durant on Simmons' debut. "I mean, obviously he just wanted to get his feet wet a little bit, and then as time goes on he’ll continue to find his rhythm. But like I said, good to see Ed moving fast out there. Good to see Joe out there shooting the ball well. You spend a year off from the game and you play organized basketball again, I mean, that's a nerve-wracking feeling: to wake up that morning, at shoot around, that nap, you’re thinking about those minutes you're about to play. So it's good to see them get over those nerves a little early and it's always good to start a race. Once we’re in it now, you understand what you have to do. So it's a good first start for us.”

It was evident from the opening minutes the Nets new 'Big 3' needs more time to mesh alongside each other. The rust between the trio was evident on both ends of the floor and the sync between the three is clearly pending. That's expected. To add an extra layer to it, Simmons' opening shift included handling the ball, playmaking for perimeter shooters, and even seeing some time at the 5 in a small-ball lineup in the closing of the second quarter. 

"Pleased overall and I think it's, it's all so new, we gotta go through this. The guys need time together," said Nash on the 'Big 3' showing Monday night. "Ben's playing in a totally different unit that he's played in the past, different style. It's a big departure. Many of these guys haven't played together. So we gotta go through this. It's gonna be ugly at times, but as the half wore on, you know, we started to see glimpses of the potential, the way the ball moved, the way they were hounding the basketball defensively. So I thought Ben looked pretty good overall and growing into the game throughout the half." 

On a roster packed and deep with shooting when healthy, the Nets can pull off Simmons at the 5 -- a position he played different versions of across his time with the Sixers. 

“It’s just different reads and I’m going to get better at adjusting to that," said Simmons on adjusting to time at the 5. "It’s our first game together as a whole so things are a lot different. But, we’re doing it. This is what the preseason is for. I think it’s good.”

"No, it's really good," said the Nets head coach on Simmons seeing time at the 5. "I think really he's the center defensively, and he still gonna be the point guard offensively. So it's a hybrid role for him but it's a process, you know, for him to, you know, play with Nic [Claxton], to play without Nic, to have the ball with Nic on the floor down the ball without Nic on the floor. And also to be, you know, not the ball handler when Nic's out there. So it's kind of almost three versions you can look at. That just takes time for him to get a feel for it. But he can be dynamic in each of those roles."

Outside of getting a huge benchmark cleared, Simmons did it against his former team. It might have been under the Barclays Center lights but after the contest, the star claimed he didn't feel anything extra going up against the Sixers. 

“Just It felt like a normal game, honestly," Simmons said. "First preseason game. First game out there in a while. Honestly, it wasn’t even on my mind. It wasn’t even a thought. Obviously, there’s history but it’s basketball so I’m doing what I love.”