Down 3-0 in their NBA first-round play-offs series, the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday ruled Ben Simmons out for Game 4 against the visiting Boston Celtics.
Simmons was widely expected to make his season and team debut on Monday night 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 on 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 play-off 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.
The Australian 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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