The Boston Celtics did something on Thursday they haven’t done in nearly a week.
They played basketball.
“I’ve been back in the building since last Friday’s walkthrough,” Brad Stevens said after the team’s first practice since three games were postponed for COVID-related health and safety protocols. “It was important for us to get back today if we hope that we’re good to go tomorrow. We cross our fingers and we’ll see.”
The Celtics shut down their practice facility on Saturday after Jayson Tatum’s positive COVID-19 test. Their next three games were postponed. The Celtics appear, at least at the moment, to have the minimum eight players necessary to play tomorrow night’s game against the Orlando Magic.
“We’ll get ready to be as good as we can be with whoever is available, we’ll do as good of a job as we can,” Stevens said. “As far as the basketball goes, we still have such a long way but I do think like it would have been good for other guys to get more of an opportunity.”
Whether that opportunity comes depends on whether four Celtics currently listed as questionable, Jaylen Brown, Javonte Green, Daniel Theis, and Semi Ojeleye, are available to play. Whether, and when, they can play may depend on the effectiveness of the new, tighter NBA COVID-19 protocols.
Those have been met with some resistance around the NBA, but Stevens says the added caution should also come with a dose of perspective.
“I don’t think there’s an easy answer here. This is a difficult time around the country. This pandemic is as rampant as its ever been, and obviously we’re feeling some of that,” he said. “we’re going to do our very best to keep each other safe and to try to adhere to whatever protocols we’re asked to follow… The rest of the world is dealing with that in every which way, so for us to complain about it, or to say, ‘Hey, I got a call that practice is canceled,’ and for me to complain about it, I think would be insensitive to everything else that’s going on in the world.”
So Stevens and the Celtics will likely get back to action tomorrow night. Eventually, the team will be whole again and they can get back to business. Until then, they are committed to simply rolling with whatever curveballs are thrown at them.
“We were going to have a number of people out in the last few games where a couple of our younger guys were going to be able to play a little bit more,” Stevens said. “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, that might be the case again… the games are so secondary in my mind right now. Just making sure we’re healthy, trying to enjoy each other’s company.”