The Celtics and the 76ers have unvaccinated players and that could be a problem
If the Celtics or 76ers face the Raptors in the playoffs, Canada's vaccine mandate could be bad news after reports confirmed both have unvaccinated players.
Though it may come as a surprise, it seems that the confusion and controversy surrounding the vaccination status of NBA players is about to cause yet another problem for some of the league's teams.
The Toronto Raptors may cause a problem
With all that occurred when Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving was barred from play and then subsequently allowed to play via a city instituted exemption, one could have been forgiven for thinking that was the end of it. Now it seems, however, that there is more to come. Interestingly it's a situation that's brewing as a result of the Toronto Raptors doing better and better. Currently sat in 6th position in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors are on course to make the playoffs. What does that have to do with vaccines you ask? Earlier this season the Canadian government implemented a vaccine mandate which prevented unvaccinated road players from entering the country. There were of course some players who were affected by the mandate, but in general the impact of the decision was minimal. That, however, could soon be set to change as the possibility of Toronto hosting several games becomes more likely.
Who does this affect? There are currently four teams atop the Eastern Conference and they are the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. Assuming things stay as they are, one of the aforementioned four will be playing the Raptors when the playoffs begin. Where Milwaukee and Miami are concerned, there should be no problems as according to reports both have fully vaccinated rosters. The Celtics and 76ers on the other hand declined to comment. That of course would indicate that there are in fact unvaccinated players on their rosters which in turn means whoever they are, they won't be playing in Toronto should they end up facing the Raptors.
What do we know about Celtics' and 76ers' rosters?
It was just this Monday gone that the Celtics actually played in Toronto. There were indeed a collection of regulars who were out, but eight players in total featured on a night that turned out to be a 115-112 overtime loss. Those eight players were Grant Williams, Aaron Nesmith, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, Derrick White, Sam Hauser, Luke Kornet and Payton Pritchard. That they played would logically suggest that they are all vaccinated. Where the rest are concerned, questions remain. "All of our guys, if healthy, are available to play," were the words of head coach Ime Udoka before Monday's game, but that doesn't give total clarity as players were injured.
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The 76ers for their part are set to play in Toronto on April 7th. At that time there will of course be a clear indication, as to who is eligible and who isn't. Either way both the 76ers and the Celtics now have a problematic choice to make. On the one hand they will both be aiming for the highest possible seed and with it home court advantage, but in doing so do they want to avoid the extremely dangerous Brooklyn Nets or a trek to Canada where they could be forced to field a depleted team? Be sure to tune in next week as we get closer to answer.