NBA

Nets’ Ben Simmons misses fourth straight, hopes to return Friday.

Nets’ Ben Simmons misses fourth straight, hopes to return Friday.

NEW YORK — Brooklyn Nets swingman Ben Simmons he said he hopes to get back at him Atlanta Hawks on Friday as he continues to deal with ongoing issues with knee pain and a calf strain.

“I’m excited where I’m at right now,” Simmons said after Tuesday’s practice. “So I’m looking for Friday to get back on track.”

Simmons will miss his fourth straight game – and ninth overall – when the Nets play Charlotte Hornets Wednesday. He believes the backlog, combined with the amount of minutes he’s been playing, has played a role in this latest setback.

“It’s a lot of weight to come back from a back injury and then the knee as well,” Simmons said. “So I’m glad we’ve had this time to build some muscle around it and we’ll work on that.”

Simmons said he felt some discomfort in his calf during the 111-97 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 27 and then again during a 109-102 win over the Orlando Magic the following night He asked to leave the game against Orlando in the first half and has not returned to the court since.

He said he will be more cautious with his minutes moving forward, which could affect if he plays both ends of the next two straight.

“I think we’re definitely going to look at it a lot differently,” Simmons said. “I don’t know if it’s measuring minutes, maybe not back-to-back, whatever. I think it’s going to be a joint thing with the coaching staff and myself, and letting them know how I feel.”

Simmons said the continued pain in his knee and calf is likely related to back surgery he had over the summer.

“I think it’s all related,” Simmons said. “When you start talking about back injuries, you start using different muscles, you want to load and bend or whatever. I think it’s all related in some way.”

Nets swingman Yuta Watanabe is hopeful of returning this weekend as he continues to deal with a strained right hamstring. Watanabe has been sidelined since scoring 16 points in a 127-115 win over Memphis Grizzlies on November 20.

“I’m getting better,” Watanabe said. “My hamstring feels good. So hopefully I can play this weekend.”



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