The Brooklyn Nets take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday in one of the most hotly anticipated games of the season. As if there wasn’t enough tension already, Ben Simmons replied to a Barstool Philly post saying they “can’t wait” for the game.
Ben Simmons has yet to play for the Brooklyn Nets this season. The three-time All-Star was acquired by the Nets in a deal that saw James Harden head in the opposite direction and, on Thursday, the Nets take on the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
Simmons isn’t playing on Thursday night but will be on the bench, according to head coach Steve Nash. It’s expected to be a hostile environment and will be Simmons’ first appearance in front of Philadelphia fans since the Game 7 loss last June.
Ben Simmons responds to Barstool Philly post
There’s clearly no love lost between Philly fans and Ben Simmons. Simmons played four full seasons with the 76ers after being drafted No. 1 overall in 2016. However, things turned sour after last year’s playoffs, with the turning point coming when the point guard passed up a wide open lay-up against the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semis.
Many Philly-based outlets are anticipating widespread boos for the former Sixers on Thursday. To crank up the tension even more, Ben Simmons replied to a Barstool Philly post about him being on the Nets’ bench tomorrow night.
The post featured a quote from Shams Charania, of The Athletic, about Ben Simmons being on the bench against the 76ers. Barstool Philly captioned the post: “Can’t wait.”
As many eagle-eyed fans on Reddit noticed, Ben Simmons replied to the Barstool Philly post writing: “Likewise.”
Steve Nash on Simmons’ return
It seems Simmons knows what to expect heading into Thursday’s game, with Steve Nash suggesting it might even be good for him.
“It is what it is. He’s a big boy. He’ll be fine,” Nash tweeted on Tuesday about Simmons returning to Philadelphia. “He wants to be there on the bench with his teammates.”
Simmons sat out the beginning of the 2021-22 season because of mental health reasons, but more recently a back injury has delayed his return.
Nash said a couple weeks ago he wanted Simmons to endure a few “high-intensity workouts” before playing in a game and, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, his back remains an issue.
“After the game in Philly, Simmons, at that point, will be ready to start getting on the floor with his teammates and increasing his workload, getting closer to returning,” Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown recently.
“That back problem has been an issue for him since he started ramping up. He’s essentially just done individual work at their facility and they’re hoping, by the end of this week, he’ll be able to do more.”
Kevin Durant speaks out in support of Simmons
After the win against the Hornets on Tuesday night, Kevin Durant spoke about the upcoming game against Philadelphia and heckling fans in general.
Durant suggested his new teammate should expect a hostile environment but that it comes with the territory.
“I think part of the experience of coming to an NBA game is to heckle,” KD tweeted. “Some people don’t even enjoy basketball, their lives are so s*** they get to just aim it at other people. So it’s easy to kind of get that release at a basketball game. Ben understands that.”
The Nets’ next home game after the Philly one is on Sunday verses the Knicks. Simmons hasn’t officially been ruled out yet but there isn’t much optimism he’ll feature.