Ahead of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics were dealt a few major blows.
Hours before the series opener, it was announced that starting center Al Horford had entered the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Horford, 35, has turned back the clock during the 2022 NBA Playoffs, posting averages of 13.0 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists on .524/.451/.833 shooting splits through Boston’s first 11 playoff games. A vintage 30-point performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals had a large role in the Celtics advancing to the East Finals.
With Horford entering the league’s health and safety protocols ahead of Game 1, his status for upcoming games in the series is now up in the air. Games will be played every other day during the Eastern Conference Finals.
When will Horford be able to return to the floor? Here is everything you need to know about his status and the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
When could Al Horford return to the Eastern Conference Finals?
With Horford already ruled out for Game 1 on Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that the Celtics are already preparing for the “likely scenario” of Horford being out for Thursday’s Game 2.
Earlier in the 2021-22 NBA season, rules stated that a player must miss 10 days while in health and safety protocols, but with the CDC updating its guidance, the NBA’s rules have been amended.
How soon can a player return from the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols?
On Dec. 31, Wojnarowski reported that the NBA and its players’ association agreed upon new protocols that would allow Covid-positive players to clear isolation after five days.
Last month, Heat center Bam Adebayo was placed in health and safety protocols on Sunday, April 10 but was cleared on Saturday, April 16 and returned to action on Sunday April, 17.
During the Western Conference Semifinals, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was placed in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols on Monday, May 9 and cleared them on Monday, May 16.
If Horford is sidelined for five days, he could be cleared to return on Sunday, May 22. Consecutive negative tests and CT values clearing the agreed-upon threshold could see Horford return sooner.
Celtics vs. Heat series schedule
Here is the full schedule for the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.