Robert Williams has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been asymptomatic, and Tristan Thompson and Grant Williams are out because of contact tracing, according to a league source. All three players missed Boston’s game against the Wizards on Friday and are expected to be sidelined for at least seven days. The Celtics officially listed them as being out because of health and safety protocols..
Their absences leave Boston’s frontcourt considerably thin. After playing Washington on Friday, Boston will face the Heat, Bulls and Magic over the next seven days. Daniel Theis will slide into the starting center slot that he occupied last season, but there will be a lack of depth behind him, forcing coach Brad Stevens to experiment with small-ball lineups.
“Inevitably, this will give other guys an opportunity to play,” Stevens said before Friday’s game. “Like I’ve said a few times earlier on, I know the big lineup has had its issues, but I think it’s really important to be able to play that way at times throughout the course of a year. Well, now it’ll be all smalls for a little while, so we’ll see how that goes, and it’ll be a good prep for when Kemba [Walker] comes back.”
Semi Ojeleye is off to the best start of his career and the 6-foot-6-inch forward will be in line for a larger role. Also, 7-5 two-way contract player Tacko Fall will likely receive a chance.
The Wizards, meanwhile, arrived in Boston late Wednesday night after their game against the 76ers. And on Thursday night, Philadelphia guard Seth Curry tested positive for COVID-19, another example of the tenuous nature of this season. Nevertheless, Stevens said he is comfortable with the steps the NBA has taken to ensure that these games are as safe as possible.
“It’s a long, arduous task for our people that are in charge of all of our protocols and following all the protocols, and for all the people at the league,” Stevens said. “Those people are putting in a lot of time and effort and they are the experts. I listen to them and they tell me what we can and can’t do.”
“I do think the reality is that we know this [virus] is rampant right now. And we’re doing everything we can, as I’ve said before, to prevent it, and it’s still going to find its way into the league, through travel parties, so we’re all assuming some level of risk. And I think we accept that and, at the same time, we trust that the people in charge have health and safety as the No. 1 priority and, if it becomes too much, that’ll be somebody else’s decision who’s an expert at it.”