Celtics guard Evan Fournier missed Tuesday night’s game against the 76ers because of COVID-19 protocols and will likely be out all week, coach Brad Stevens said.
Fournier was sidelined for the March 27 game against the Thunder, which was expected to be his Celtics debut, because of COVID-19 protocols, too. But that positive test was followed by numerous negative tests, so he was cleared to play against the Pelicans on March 29.
“Hopefully we can get him back in time and still make a run without him,” forward Jaylen Brown said. “Play some basketball and keep this thing going.”
Fournier, who was acquired from the Magic on March 25, went 0 for 10 against New Orleans but has given the Celtics a major boost recently. He averaged 20 points per game over Boston’s last two wins and was 11 for 16 from beyond the 3-point line.
Center Tristan Thompson, meanwhile, has been cleared to return after being sidelined since March 11 because of COVID-19 protocols. He sat out on Tuesday because he is in a conditioning program. Stevens said he is hopeful that Thompson will be available to face the Knicks on Wednesday night.
Forward Semi Ojeleye, who missed the last six games because of a left side strain, was available against Philadelphia.
“I don’t anticipate him playing a huge amount of minutes [Tuesday or Wednesday], so he’ll be available for both,” Stevens said. “But he’s worked hard to get back and get ready. And obviously his physicality and his body is one that you could definitely see playing a role both of these next two games against two of the more physical teams in the NBA.”
Langford a plus
Second-year wing Romeo Langford missed the first half of the season while recovering from wrist surgery, and after he was cleared to return he tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11 and missed nearly a month while recovering.
He made his debut against the Hornets on Sunday, though. Stevens said Langford’s playing time will remain limited as he works back into game shape, but he will have an important role moving forward.
“I think that he adds a great deal of value to our team,” Stevens said. “I think he knows how to play. He moves the ball on offense. He obviously has to improve his efficiency as a scorer; we all can see that. But he steps into our team, without playing, and becomes one of our better wing defenders right now. And I think that is where he has a chance to impact us the most.”
Stevens said Boston’s bench was a bit lacking in height and length for much of this season, and the presence of the 6-foot-4-inch Langford could even open opportunities for others.
“That allows everybody to guard a little bit better when you have a guy that’s so versatile that you can throw in there,” Stevens said. “He’s not going to be a heavy minute guy for a while. We’ll get him up as fast as we can so that he should be a part of our rotation.
“Another thing that’s good is it allows us to play other smalls, and try other smalls. I think sometimes it’s hard to play Payton [Pritchard] and Carsen [Edwards] together. But other times there’s matchups where we need to look at Carsen. And it’s hard to play Kemba [Walker] and Payton together. But I just think you have opportunities with Romeo that complement some of our smaller players.”