That is now three postponed games in a row for Boston, two of which stemmed from the Celtics being unable to field a full team. The third, the game against Miami, was because Miami couldn’t dress eight players.
Friday’s game is still scheduled as of right now.
The NBA has a problem on its hands right now, but instead of pausing the season they are clamping down on some of the weak spots in policy. Today, the league announced stricter protocols, including a quarantine that requires players to stay home or in their hotels on the road except for essential activities or emergencies. There is no more access to restaurants on the road, and team meetings in the locker room are restricted to 10 minutes.
There are also game-day regulations on greeting and handshakes, and masks will be required at all times.
Here’s a full, detailed list of the new restrictions released by the league and union:
- Activities Outside the Team Environment: For at least the next two weeks, players and team staff are required to remain at their residence (when the team is in its home market) at all times except to attend team-related activities at the team facility or arena, exercise outside, or perform essential activities, or as a result of extraordinary circumstances. Away-from-work interactions are limited to those with household members, family and any personal staff working regularly in the home. When on the road, players and team staff are prohibited from leaving their hotel (other than for team activities or emergencies) or interacting with non-team guests at the hotel.
- Meetings: For at least the next two weeks, any pre-game meeting in the locker room is limited to no more than 10 minutes in duration and all attendees must wear a facemask. All other meetings involving players and team staff must continue to occur on the court, in a league-approved space, or at the arena in a room large enough to provide for at least 6 feet of distance between individuals. Meeting attendees must continue to wear facemasks at all times.
- On the Road: For team flights, teams must create a seating plan on planes so that players whose assigned seats are closest to each other on the bench for games are also closest to each other on the team plane. All treatment sessions at a hotel, such as massages and physical therapy, must occur in a ballroom or other large open space, with at least 12 feet between individual stations. Facemasks and face shields are required for all individuals during such sessions.
- Game Day: Players are prohibited from arriving at the arena more than three hours before tip-off. During the pre- and post-game periods, players must limit interactions to elbow or fist bumps, avoid extended socializing and maintain 6 feet of distance as much as possible.
- Facemasks: All players must wear facemasks on the bench at all times. Upon exiting the game, and prior to returning to the bench, players can sit in “cool down chairs,” arranged at least 12 feet from the bench with each chair 6 feet apart, where facemasks are not required. Once a player has cooled down, he must return to his assigned seat on the bench and wear a facemask until he enters the game again. Players must always wear facemasks in the locker room, during strength and conditioning activities and when traveling with anyone other than a household member. Coaches and other team staff must wear facemasks at all times during games.
- Testing: Any individual who regularly visits the interior of the home of a player or team staff member for a professional purpose must undergo COVID-19 testing twice per week. For any team with a positive player case or high-risk staff member case, the NBA may require players and team staff to undergo five consecutive days of twice-per-day, lab-based testing, in addition to daily point-of-care testing.
I discussed possible solutions to the league’s COVID-19 problem (aside from a pause) in the new episode of the Locked On Celtics podcast. Many of the items discussed in the podcast are, in some form, what the league adopted.