BOSTON (CBS) — With COVID-19 concerns up and down the roster, the Boston Celtics have not played a game since last Friday. Three of the team’s games have been postponed as players deal with positive tests and contact tracing, and Friday’s tilt against the Orlando Magic at TD Garden remains up in the air.
But Celtics president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge is optimistic that the team will be back in action against the Magic on Friday night.
“I think that our players are all doing well. We have some that are in contact tracing. All of our players are doing well and it looks like we’ll be able to play a game [Friday],” Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday. “But we still have 17 more tests to do between then and now, so we’ll have to find out what happens.
“Each of these tests, you’re on pins and needles right now with the way that our society has gone, more than the NBA. The NBA has done a pretty good job,” added Ainge. “But it looks like we’re moving in the right direction, so that’s good.”
Now the question becomes who will be taking the floor for the Celtics if the team is given the green light to play again. According to reports, Jayson Tatum and Robert Williams were the only players to test positive for COVID-19 (plus rumors or a third positive test from an unknown player), with a number of other players out due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games were postponed because Boston wouldn’t have had the minimum eight players available to play.
Both Tatum and Williams have been ruled out for Friday’s game, with a laundry list of players listed as questionable. But if no further players test positive, the Celtics should have eight players available for their game against the Magic.
However, Ainge did say that Kemba Walker’s return will likely have to wait a few more days. The point guard was cleared to practice last Friday, but the team obviously hasn’t been practicing over the last week and he was ruled out for Friday’s game on Thursday.
“The challenge with Kemba is that Kemba is working, but he really hasn’t played basketball. With our team and our inability to practice and do nothing but one-on-zero workouts, it’s hard to get Kemba the real reps he needs to get back on the court in a game,” said Ainge.