On Saturday night, after erupting for a season-high 27 points in the Celtics’ 114-107 win over the Knicks, guard Josh Richardson talked about how glad he was to be back after missing two games recently because of a positive COVID-19 test.
But that return was ultimately fleeting. On Sunday night, the Celtics announced Richardson was reentering COVID-19 protocols and would miss Monday’s game against the 76ers, along with the other six players who tested positive this week: Al Horford, Grant Williams, Juancho Hernangomez, Jabari Parker, Sam Hauser, and Brodric Thomas.
Guard Dennis Schröder (non-COVID illness) and forwards Romeo Langford (neck pain) and Jayson Tatum (ankle) are questionable.
For Richardson, who has declined to answer questions this season about whether he has been vaccinated, it’s a sudden setback considering he just returned from his weeklong COVID-19-related absence on Friday.
He tested positive prior to Boston’s blowout loss to the Suns Dec. 10 and was unable to travel back to Boston with the team afterward. Instead, the Celtics rented an Airbnb apartment for him, and he stayed there for four days and tried to stay occupied however he could.
“Watched a lot of film, slept a lot,” Richardson said Saturday, prior to reentering the protocol. “My Xbox was broken too, so that made it a lot worse. I couldn’t play [with my team] like I wanted to. But I was just on a bike. I had a little weight room, so I was all right.”
Richardson said he never developed coronavirus symptoms. He eventually flew home on a commercial jet, and after registering a pair of negative tests he was cleared to return for Friday night’s game against the Warriors.
He scored 15 points in that contest and was then dominant against the Knicks on Saturday, lifting Boston’s severely shorthanded group.
Since Richardson felt no effects from COVID last week, he said the mini break essentially gave him a chance to recharge, and he appeared to be one of the most energized and effective players on the court in both games this weekend.
“I mean, the game mentally is tough,” Richardson said. “So having one off day is huge, but being able to have five off days is definitely different. It’s good for my legs. I like to try to take care of my knees. I think that’s a big factor in my effect on the game. Just being professional, using time off and not just wasting it I think is a big thing.”
Less than 24 hours after making those statements, though, Richardson found himself back in COVID-19 protocol.