The Celtics’ game against the Bulls in Chicago scheduled for Tuesday has been postponed because the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols would keep the Celtics from having the league minimum of eight players.
It is Boston’s second consecutive postponed game. On Sunday, the scheduled home matchup against the Heat was pushed back because COVID-19 contact tracing kept Miami from having eight eligible players. But the Celtics would have been severely undermanned in that game, too.
Robert Williams and Jayson Tatum both tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week, and Jaylen Brown, Semi Ojeleye, Grant Williams, Tristan Thompson, and Javonte Green are all being held out because of contact tracing. Also, Kemba Walker and Romeo Langford remain sidelined with injuries.
That would have left the Celtics with just eight available players: Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, Payton Pritchard, Tremont Waters, Aaron Nesmith, Jeff Teague, Tacko Fall, and Carsen Edwards. But now it appears that at least one more player has been ruled out.
Walker, who has yet to play this season because of left knee pain, was expected to return as early as this weekend, but that was likely contingent on taking part in a few practices, and the Celtics’ facility has been shuttered because of this recent breakout.
The Celtics had been scheduled to fly to Chicago around 3 p.m. Monday, but the game was postponed before the flight departed. The rest of this week remains murky for them. Players sidelined for contact tracing are expected to be out for 5-7 days, so Wednesday’s game against the Magic at TD Garden could be in doubt, too.
The NBA also postponed Monday’s game between New Orleans and Dallas, as the Mavericks did not have enough players cleared to play while contact tracing was ongoing. The NBA said Monday that it will meet with the National Basketball Players Association about modifying the league’s health and safety protocols.