The Celtics’ game against the Heat on Sunday night was postponed because Miami did not have the league minimum of eight available players for the game due to COVID-19 contact tracing protocols.
The announcement was made by the NBA around 5 p.m., and earlier in the day it appeared that the Celtics were prepared to proceed with a severely undermanned roster.
The Celtics were expected to have just eight available players due to their own COVID-19-related issues.
On Sunday afternoon, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Javonte Green, and Semi Ojeleye were all ruled out due to health and safety protocols. Tatum has tested positive for COVID-19, and the others are likely out for contact tracing reasons.
Robert Williams, Tristan Thompson, and Grant Williams remain out due to health and safety protocols, too.
Robert Williams tested positive when the team returned to Boston from Miami last Thursday, and Thompson and Grant Williams were held out due to contact tracing. Kemba Walker (knee) and Romeo Langford (wrist) remain out due to injuries.
That left Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, Payton Pritchard, Tremont Waters, Aaron Nesmith, Jeff Teague, Tacko Fall, and Carsen Edwards available. Players sidelined due to contact tracing are expected to be out for a minimum of seven days, so Thompson and Grant Williams might be able to return to face the Orlando Magic on Friday.
The Celtics are scheduled to face the Bulls on Tuesday and the Magic on Wednesday, the first game of their two-game set against Orlando. As of Sunday evening, Boston remained scheduled to fly to Chicago on Monday.
Walker, who has yet to play this season, has been cleared to resume practicing and the team had targeted Friday for his return, but the Celtics’ practice facility has been shuttered due to this outbreak, so it’s unclear if that will delay Walker’s timeline.