Ben Simmons Nets NBA

Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets stands for the singing of the national anthem before Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on April 20, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Down 3-0 in their first-round playoff series, the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday ruled Ben Simmons out for Monday’s Game 4 against the visiting Boston Celtics.

Simmons was widely expected to make his season and team debut in Game 4 after a lengthy ramp-up period while dealing with a back injury.

But ESPN reported that Simmons awoke with back soreness Sunday, and he and the Nets agreed to play it safe and keep him out.

The former Philadelphia 76ers star was cleared for contact last week and participated in more live drills at practice, including a 4-on-4 drill.

The No. 2 seed Celtics defeated the No. 7 seed Nets 109-103 in Game 3 Saturday night to move ahead by a daunting margin. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

Simmons, acquired in a blockbuster trade in February that sent James Harden to the Sixers, has yet to play a game in a Nets uniform. Simmons forced his way out of Philadelphia over a fractured relationship with 76ers coach Doc Rivers and teammate Joel Embiid.

The 25-year-old was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. He averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game with the 76ers.

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