Celtics expect to play Friday, as NBA weighs more testing

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Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens gestures during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat on Wednesday, Jan.6, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo / Marta Lavandier) Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens gestures during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat on Wednesday, Jan.6, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo / Marta Lavandier)

The Boston Celtics expect their unplanned week-long hiatus due to coronavirus concerns to end on Friday, when they are expected to host the Orlando Magic.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge in a radio interview Thursday said: “It looks like we are headed in the right direction.” Boston has postponed three games that were said to have been played between Sunday and Wednesday because some players tested positive and others were excluded because contact tracing showed they may have been exposed to the virus.

League-wide, eight games since Sunday have been postponed and the NBA is considering whether other games – including a Saturday game in Phoenix and a Sunday game in Washington – should be postponed. The Suns and Wizards were both scheduled to play on Friday; those games were postponed because contact tracing showed that neither club would meet the NBA’s requirement to have eight players available.

“I think our players are all doing well,” Ainge said during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “We also have some who are looking for contacts. All of our players are doing well, and it looks like we can play a game tomorrow. But we still have 17 tests to do by then.

“Each of these tests, you’re just pins and needles, right now, the way our company has gone,” Ainge added.

And more tests are likely to come for the NBA, which revealed on Wednesday 16 players tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

League officials, in a note obtained by the Associated Press, told the teams they decided to hold additional match-day testing for players and referees. Teams from all 28 NBA cities have been asked to research whether there is a local lab that can process PCR tests relatively quickly; additional tests would be conducted on match day mornings and give results no later than one hour before the report.

The league’s diet already includes daily PCR tests for players and coaches, and rapid tests on match days. The NBA told teams it was possible a decision could be made on the extra layer of testing by the weekend. ESPN first reported the contents of the league memo.

Boston’s weeklong hiatus, if it ends as scheduled on Friday, would be the longest in the NBA so far this season. If Thursday’s game schedule had ended without further postponement, five teams – Portland, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Denver and Indiana – would have played four games since the Celtics’ last game.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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