Harm updates, Ben Simmons debut, Brooklyn Nets vs Boston Celtics, Luka Doncic calf, Devin Booker hamstring

Ben Simmons looks set to make his Brooklyn Nets debut in their playoff series with the Boston Celtics, with a “realistic” return date revealed on Thursday.

Nets coach Steve Nash said earlier in the week that guard Ben Simmons has taken part in a full contact workout as he fights to return from a back injury.

The Australian star, obtained in a trade that sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers, has not played since last May.

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And while Nash ruled out Simmons playing in game two of the Nets’ first-round best-of-seven playoff series against Boston on Wednesday, he was non-committal about later games.

ESPN though reported Game 4 is a “realistic target” for Simmons.

Nash said that specific return date was “news” to him when asked prior to Brooklyn’s game with Boston on Thursday.

“You know, I don’t think we’re targeting any game,” he said.

“I think we’re trying to see how he develops, how he progresses and that’s something that, with the recent history since the trade, has not been straightforward. So while it’s exciting to see him on the floor and see him make progress, I don’t think any of us are saying it’s imminent.

“I think we’re just going to sit back and support him and see how far he gets. And if he’s able to play, that’d be great. But we’re not… we haven’t penciled in anything or made any conclusions yet. I think he’s got a long ways to go before he feels ready to play.”

Nash said Simmons took part in a four-on-four game situation workout on Tuesday and has also been working on his shot form with shooting instructor Kyle Korver.

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Ben Simmons could make his Nets debut this week. Elsa/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

SUNS UNCLEAR OF WHEN BOOKER WILL RETURN

Phoenix’s All-Star guard Devin Booker has a “mild right hamstring strain” and it is not clear when he will return as the Suns battle the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA playoffs first round.

“Devin Booker has sustained a mild right hamstring strain, an MRI confirmed today,” the Suns said in a statement on Thursday. “There is no timetable for his return from him and updates will be provided as appropriate.”

ESPN reported that Booker appears likely to miss the next two games but has not been ruled out of the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.

The Pelicans knotted the series at one game each on Wednesday, when they stunned the top-seeded Suns 125-114.

It is unclear when Devin Booker will return. Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Booker scored 31 of Phoenix’s 61 first-half points and the Suns led by five at halftime. His seven first-half three-pointers were a career playoff high for any full game.

But Booker tweaked his right hamstring — apparently as he was jumping to challenge a Jaxson Hayes dunk — and was removed in the third quarter.

Booker is no stranger to hamstring injuries. He missed seven games with a left hamstring strain suffered in November. In last season’s NBA finals he played through a hamstring injury suffered in game three, which he did not reveal until the Suns had fallen to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games.

Game three in the series is on Saturday in New Orleans.

LUKA NEARING RETURN FOR DALLAS

Dallas star Luka Doncic said he was “feeling pretty good” as he rehabilitates a left calf strain, but remains uncertain to play game three of the Mavericks’ NBA playoff series against Utah.

“I’ve been doing more court stuff and I’m feeling pretty good,” Doncic said in comments posted on the team’s website.

“I’ll just see how (the calf) feels. Today and yesterday I did a little bit, but we shouldn’t rush anything. I think I’m doing a lot and I’m getting ready.” The Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz are tied 1-1 in their best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.

Luka Doncic is closing in on a return Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Utah took the first game but even without their star playmaker the Mavs downed Utah 110-104 in game two, fueled by a career-high 41 points from Jalen Brunson.

If Doncic is cleared to play on Friday, he could be under a minute restriction.

“That’s for the medical (staff) and for him to decide where he’s at and what minutes he’ll play,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said.

“I know, as I’ve said all week for the last 10-11 days, he’s in good spirits and he’s going forward.

“There hasn’t been a setback. It’s just a matter of how he feels tomorrow.” Doncic said he didn’t know if he’d be “100 per cent” when he returns. “I think that’s tough right now,” he said. “But if I’m ready and there’s no risk of injury, I’ll be out there.”

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