LeBron James and Chris Paul are among the players who have publicly stated they will not attend games of their teams if there is any sign that opposing players might be unvaccinated. The NBA has been in a constant state of flux since its decision to allow players like Kobe Bryant into season with an irregular heartbeat, as it tries to regain public faith for the league’s integrity.
The “celtics vs 76ers game 7” is a potential playoff game in Toronto, Boston and Philadelphia. The Celtics and Sixers declined to say if their teams are fully vaccinated.
4:34 p.m. Eastern
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
Both the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers refused to answer to ESPN when asked explicitly whether their teams are completely vaccinated within the last 24 hours, raising the prospect that both teams might be missing players in road games in a first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors.
The Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Celtics, and 76ers are all within one loss of each other at the top of the Eastern Conference standings as of Wednesday, meaning they may finish in any order between now and April 10th.
As a result, any of them might be forced to fly to Toronto for a first-round playoff matchup against the Raptors. To enter Canada after January 15, players must be completely immunized.
The Heat and Bucks both told ESPN that their teams are completely immunized and would have no problems playing in Toronto.
The Celtics lost in overtime in their first game in Toronto since the immunization mandate took effect on Monday.
Boston ruled out four players for Monday’s game in Toronto, the second night of a back-to-back, after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Sunday: Robert Williams, who tore his meniscus in his left knee on Sunday; Al Horford, who had to sit out both Sunday and Monday’s games due to personal issues; Jayson Tatum, who has right patella tendinopathy; and Jaylen Brown, who has right knee pain.
Williams has been immunized, according to ESPN sources. Tatum said he got vaccinated on Celtics media day, but that no one should be judged if they choose not to be.
“I mean, it’s your choice,” Tatum said. “I completely appreciate the fears of individuals who aren’t vaccinated and don’t want to be, as well as those who were. It’s for your own personal reasons and wellbeing. Nobody should be condemned in any manner, regardless of their choice.”
At the time, Brown said getting the immunization was a personal decision.
“I have my own opinions about it,” Brown added, “but I accept my teammates’ judgments and stuff like that.” “I understand that everyone has an opinion about it, but I believe it is a personal decision.”
In October, Brown and Horford both underwent the NBA’s health and safety standards, with Horford doing so again in December.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia hasn’t played in Toronto since the rule change took effect. The 76ers meet the Raptors for the second time on April 7 to wrap off a three-game road trip that began on Dec. 28 in Toronto.
The Celtics (47-29) are in third place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the Bucks in second (47-28). The 76ers are in fourth place with a 46-29 record, a half-game behind the Celtics. The Raptors (43-32) are a half-game behind the Chicago Bulls for sixth place (44-32). In eighth place, the Cleveland Cavaliers sit a game behind the Toronto Raptors.
The playoffs will begin on April 16 and 17, with Games 3 and 4 of the first round, which will be held in Toronto, expected to begin three weeks from Wednesday.
To be considered fully vaccinated in Canada, one must be two weeks past a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two weeks past the second shot of the two-dose vaccines. That would mean unvaccinated players would have about a week to get the one-dose vaccine in order to be fully vaccinated in time to play in every game of a first-round playoff series.
Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets was unable to play games in New York, either at Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden, until the city modified its immunization laws this week, allowing unvaccinated sportsmen to compete in home games.
On Sunday, Irving faced the Charlotte Hornets in his debut game in New York.
Because of the requirement, Irving’s status was a hot subject all season. However, there have been no such restrictions in Boston or Philadelphia, rendering vaccination status irrelevant.
That is no longer the case as the playoffs approach, bringing with them the possibility of a first-round or later clash with the Raptors.
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