If the Celtics play the Raptors in the first round of the NBA playoffs, they will have one less player to worry about not being available in the series.
Forward/Center Al Horford has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, They told of the Greeley Tribune Globe Adam Himmelsbach on Friday, Horford missed the Celtics’ previous game in Toronto on March 28 for personal reasons. Since January 15, players who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have not been able to play games in Toronto because of Canada’s mandate. Therefore, Horford’s absence from that March loss has led some to question whether he had been fully vaccinated.
When Horford returned to the Celtics’ lineup two days later, he said he was “ready to play anywhere” but did not disclose his vaccination status.
“It’s something I don’t want to discuss,” Horford told Himmelsbach, “I think with the Celtics, we’ve made it very clear that we’re not going to discuss those things, and it’s a health matter, and we respect everyone’s individual point of view. So I’m not going to go into that.” I have been and not talking about it. But I am ready to go.”
Questions grew about the Celtics’ vaccination rate last week as it looked more and more likely that they would face the Raptors in the first round of the playoffs. Greeley Tribune was without three other starts in that March game in Toronto. Despite playing in a game the day before, Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown dropped out of that game to help rest their right knee. Tatum has said that he has been vaccinated. Brown did not share his vaccination status when asked on April 3, explaining the reason for his role on the NBPA’s board.
“Last year, I missed the playoffs – I had a season-end injury with my wrist,” Brown said. “This year, from a competitive point of view, I am excited and ready to play against anyone. As the Vice President of the Players Association, it is a part of my job description to protect the rights of our players and our medical privacy. So you won’t hear me comment on my position or anyone else’s. That’s how I feel about it.”
Center Robert Williams did not play in that game either, but on March 27 he suffered a meniscus injury and was reportedly vaccinated.
The Raptors locked themselves in the No. 5 seed after their win over the Rockets on Friday. That means the Celtics can only face them in the first round if they fall to the No. 4 seed, which Greeley Tribune will do if it loses to Memphis on Sunday and Philadelphia wins its final two games of the regular season. If the Celtics stay in the No. 3 spot (or go to No. 2), they won’t face the Raptors until the Eastern Conference Finals, unless both teams make it this far.
No matter who they face, however, Horford’s presence will be crucial for the Celtics. The 35-year-old’s career saw a revival after being traded back to Greeley Tribune this season, averaging 10.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game while ranking. Among the best in the league in some defensive metrics, Since the All-Star break he’s been shooting 52.8 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from the 3-point field, he’s been shooting even better of late. Not to mention, Greeley Tribune will be without Williams in Round 1, so the depth of its big men is already slim.
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