Sources: Simmons to begin practicing with Nets

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After running and shooting without back pain for over a week, Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons is expected to take the next step on the floor in the coming week and begin practicing against teammates on the court, sources told ESPN on Saturday.

His continued progress is fostering hope that Simmons could make his season debut sometime later in Brooklyn’s opening-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, sources said. The Nets and Celtics meet for Game 1 on Sunday in Boston.

So far, Simmons has been limited to 1-on-0 workouts, but that’s on track to change and the Nets remain hopeful that they can get something out of Simmons in this series, even if it’s just 10 to 15 minutes a game, sources said.

Simmons had an epidural shot in mid-March to subdue pain and irritation associated with a herniated disk in his lower back.

The Nets acquired Simmons in a blockbuster deal with the Philadelphia 76ers at the February trade deadline, but he has yet to play an NBA game since the Eastern Conference finals in June. Simmons wanted a trade out of Philadelphia, eventually sitting out citing his mental health.

Simmons, 25, is a three-time All-Star and two-time All-Defensive first-team selection.

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