BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics will be playing meaningful basketball again come next week, but basketball won’t be all that is on their minds. The COVID-19 pandemic is still gripping the country, and the NBA has several procedures in place to make sure it can complete a 72-game regular season.
The NBA bubble in Orlando is no more, leaving teams to follow all the rules and guidelines every time they step into their own facilities and those they visit throughout the country. It’s led to a lot of adjustments, something teams will likely be getting used to throughout the season.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens highlighted the adjustments on Wednesday, after his team made a quick trip to Philadelphia for Tuesday night’s preseason opener.
“It’s a lot to adjust to. There are testing requirements in the morning that we have to all pass to go to shootaround,” he explained. “Those are going to be delicate for teams; I’m not sure how many teams will have them optional — or at all.”
The testing and waiting that follows could lead to most coaches around the league changing up their game-day routine. Stevens said that he could see more teams holding walkthroughs in hotel ballrooms over actual shootarounds on game days.
As for what players do after that shootaround/walkthrough, Stevens said it’s up to everyone to do their part to stay healthy and limit the spread of the virus.
“You’re pretty restricted with what you could do,” he said, pointing out that there was no indoor dining during their trip to Philly. “It’s something new we all have to get used to and we all have to be vigilant in doing so.
“The country is not in a good place right now and it’s as rampant as it’s been. We have to make sure we’re doing our part to make it safe for not only the teams in the league but our families,” Stevens added. “We are all responsible for that.”
One thing that won’t bother Stevens or his Celtics players is playing in front of empty stadiums. Stevens was happy with the energy his team played with in Tuesday night’s 108-99 loss, and said the lack of real crowd noise — or lack of fans in the stands — won’t be an issue.
“Our energy was fine. We played in the bubble so we know what it’s like to not have fans,” he said. “It is a little different playing in the big arenas, but it felt similar to the bubble. Maybe a little louder with piped-in noise.”