Nets' Ben Simmons returns vs. Mavericks after 4-game absence

DALLAS -- Brooklyn Nets swingman Ben Simmons came off the bench Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks after missing the past four games because of left knee soreness.

"I feel great," Simmons said Monday after the team's shootaround. "It took a few days to get some rehab in, get it right. So I'm feeling great. ... I'll be in tonight. I think I've got like 20 minutes."

Simmons had an MRI on the knee last week that came back clean, but he had to get the knee drained and did not accompany the Nets on the first two games of this road trip -- wins over the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Hornets.

Simmons said he believes that the knee issue, combined with rehabbing from offseason back surgery, has impacted his play early in the season. He has averaged 6.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists in six games.

"I don't want to make that an excuse, but I had a swollen knee," Simmons said. "It is what it is, but it's taken care of now, so I'm glad I'm moving."

Simmons said he believes the knee issue is likely related to the back surgery.

"I think overall, if you have something you're doing on your left side, it typically affects your right side," Simmons said. "I had a lower right back injury, so it's probably a part to it. But as time goes on, I need to stay on my strength in terms of left and right knee. And then obviously continue to do the work I've been doing on my back."

During Monday's game, Nets forward Yuta Watanabe sprained his left ankle and did not return.