It seemed significant the 76ers would miss Matisse Thybulle – who’s ineligible to play in Toronto, presumably due to Canada’s coronavirus-vaccine requirement – in a playoff series against the Raptors.
The Celtics might be without Jaylen Brown and Al Horford in Toronto.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated on TSN:
The Celtics have some unvaccinated guys. My understanding is Jaylen Brown is unvaccinated, Al Horford is unvaccinated.
UPDATE: Horford announced that he is vaccinated.
Horford is a good starter whose importance to Boston is heightened with Robert Williams sidelined. Brown is a borderline All-Star.
Either of them being unavailable in 2-3 games of a playoff series would be a major swing. Given the stakes, it’d be a development with an impact rivaling the NBA’s preeminent coronavirus-vaccine saga: Kyrie Irving missing Brooklyn Nets home games throughout much of the regular season due to New York’s vaccine mandate
Brown (listed as out due to “Injury/Illness – Right Knee; Tendinopathy”) and Horford (listed as out due to “Personal Reasons”) missed a game in Toronto last week. The Celtics refused to confirm their team is fully vaccinated. So, both players were asked about their status.
Brown, via NBC Sports Boston:
Last year, I missed the playoffs. I had a season-ending injury with my wrist. This year, from a competitive standpoint, I’m excited and ready to play against anybody. As a vice president of the Players Association, it’s a part of my job description to protect our players’ rights and our medical privacy. So, you won’t hear me comment on my status or anybody else’s. But that’s how I feel about it,” .
Horford, via Matt Vautour of MassLive:
“We’re clear on that. I’ll be ready to play wherever,” Horford said.
Whatever message Brown and Horford each intended to send, they will have to face Canada’s limitations if the Celtics and Raptors meet in the playoffs. It’s fair to question whether Canada’s restrictions are appropriate, especially with coronavirus numbers relatively low. But this is the reality.
Circumstances can change before playoff games in Toronto. Brown and Horford could satisfy Canada’s requirements by getting the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering the country. The playoffs begin in eight days, though a Celtics-Raptors series would start with two games in Boston. (Toronto can still catch home-court advantage over Philadelphia, though it’s a longshot.)