The good news is Jaylen Brown should be eligible to return to the Boston Celtics for the team’s first regular season game. The bad news is Al Horford likely won’t be.
The duo both recently tested positive for COVID-19 and have been in quarantine away from the team. Brown is asymptomatic, and coach Ime Udoka provided an update on Horford after the Celtics got word of the veteran big’s diagnosis.
“Al’s doing okay,” Udoka said Wednesday in his media availability. “Obviously nobody wants to be in the situation so there’s no real positive about it, but health-wise, overall he’s doing okay.”
It was announced Tuesday that Horford tested positive, just before the team flew down to Florida to face the Orlando Magic in their third preseason game. Unfortunately, the 10-day timeline to get him back isn’t promising for Opening Night.
“It’s going to be close based on the amount of days since he was just the positive, and then from there you’ve got to have your two (negative) results,” Udoka said. “Similar situation to what I went through before training camp so, timeline-wise is going to be very close. We’ll see what happens with that, but we should definitely have Jaylen back by then.”
Both he and Brown have stayed engaged with the team and coaches, with access to practice and game film, but Udoka says the team is taking it slow with what’s implement in their absence.
It’s not ideal timing as the team tries to build chemistry and test out rotations before games start mattering against their record. But hopefully getting these positive cases out of the way now won’t lead to what happened last season when the Celtics literally spent more time with players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols than any other team in the league.
“Overall I’ve seen the numbers of games missed last year, you know, it really hit us hard last year and so I knew that coming in,” Udoka said. “Obviously it is a frustrating thing and being that I dealt with it as well right before I guess is a silver lining when it’s happening — if there is one — in the preseason. So, you know, you’re missing games where it doesn’t officially count but it still breaks the rhythm of some of the things we’ve done over the first few weeks. It’s not good overall. But like I said, it gives other guys that opportunity to get some run in there.”
Boston has a chance against Orlando to see what it has at the end of the bench, though it can’t necessarily test rotations with Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Dennis Schröder and Josh Richardson all out for rest.
Tip-off between the Celtics and Magic is 7 p.m. ET.