Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash against the Milwaukee Bucks on...

Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 31, 2022. Credit: AP/Noah K. Murray

There was one point after practice Monday when Nets coach Steve Nash mused that he sounded like a doctor, and that he probably should stop.

But that kind of thing seems all but inevitable when it comes to the Nets this season. Battered and bruised, they again are confronted with more questions than answers.

This is what they know so far: It had been believed that Ben Simmons would be ready for the playoffs, but he certainly will miss the play-in tournament, and potentially more than that, with a herniated disc in his back. Seth Curry (sore ankle) might be shut down for the last four games.

Goran Dragic, who entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols before the Nets’ game in Atlanta over the weekend, is still there. The Nets don’t know when he can return, only that he was symptomatic when he tested positive for COVID-19.

Bruce Brown played half of the Milwaukee game last week with a stomach flu that caused him to miss the game against the Hawks, but he’s fine now.

Nash said Simmons has continued to do some light shooting and has added some strengthening work but has not begun running. He’ll need to have at least three high-intensity workouts, which do not seem imminent, before he’s allowed to play.

Nash said the team won’t skip the workouts just to rush him onto the court. “I don’t think [we’d skip it] because of the deficit he’s coming out of,” he said. “If he had played 65 games this year and we’re going into the playoffs, and he had a few weeks’ injury, maybe, but I think in this situation, we’ve got to put his health and safety first and make sure that we’re certain he’s ready to play and contribute.

“And the other part is he hasn’t played basketball, so what kind of Ben [do] you get? He hasn’t been in an NBA game for, you know, nine, 10 months.”

Curry’s ankle is a concern. “We have a spectrum there with Seth that we have to try to manage and protect him and also we can’t over-protect at this point,” Nash said. “The position we’re in is, do we try to sit him? Does him sitting for a week help? Or is he right back in the same boat anyway? And how important is it for us to try to creep up into the seven, eight spots? We’re weighing all those things and it’s kind of more [of a] daily [thing].”

And of course, all this is demoralizing. Brown said the “energy was a little bit low” but that they’ll pick it up and try to win out the rest of the season.

With four games left, the Nets (40-38) are in 10th place, with the Hornets (40-38), the team in front of them, owning a tiebreaker advantage.

There is no mathematical way the Nets can miss the play-in, but playing one fewer game as the seventh or eighth seed would be ideal. Ahead of Tuesday night’s games, they were 2 1⁄2 games behind the Cavaliers (43-36), who are seventh, and one behind the Hawks (41-37), who are eighth.

“We’ve just got to focus on the next game that’s in front of us,” Kevin Durant said. “You want to be a champion every second that you step on the floor, not just when we play a good team or the playoffs coming up. I think being a champion is in the habits and in the work ethic, the care that you have for the game.”

But are those habits still there, even after everything?

“Of course,” he said. “There are a lot of champions out here that never won a ring, but they approach their work ethic that way, and that’s how I felt our team needed to approach this season. And guys have, but some stuff that’s out of individual control is the reason why we’re in certain positions. But that doesn’t stop you from having the championship mentality every day.”

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