Celtics news: Tristan Thompson, 2 other players to enter COVID-19 quarantine

The Boston Celtics will be without Tristan Thompson and two other frontcourt players due to COVID-19 protocols.

By Matt Fitzgerald
Jan 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Boston Celtics center Tristan Thompson (13) gets defended by Detroit Pistons center Mason Plumlee (24) during the third quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics are dealing with a reported positive COVID-19 test from Robert Williams, which is forcing Grant Williams and Tristan Thompson into a seven-day quarantine as close contacts.

Thompson is a key part of the Celtics’ rotation and in particular is a vital cog in the frontcourt. It appears the players in quarantine will miss the next four to five games.

Celtics news: Tristan Thompson among Boston players entering COVID-19 quarantine

Shams Charania of The Athletic initially reported the news, while The Boston Globe‘s Adam Himmelsbach reported it was Robert Williams who recorded the lone positive COVID-19 test.

NBA protocols dictate players must go through at least a seven-day quarantine, and unless there’s some special circumstances that distinguishes this situation from others, that’s what this Boston trio is looking at.

Robert Williams was a late first-round pick in 2018 who’s seen limited minutes, yet has proven himself to be an excellent rim protector, averaging 3.9 blocks per 36 minutes for his young career. Grant Williams is a second-year forward whose position flexibility provides Boston coach Brad Stevens with some rotation versatility he’ll be missing for the time being.

As for Thompson, he was an NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers and is among the NBA’s premier pick-and-roll defenders. In recent years, he’s expanded his offensive game, and also leads the Celtics this season with 8.5 rebounds per contest.

That production is difficult to replace, yet there’s reason to believe Boston has the personnel to get by for a short time.

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Celtics news: Daniel Theis, Tacko Fall must step up for Tristan Thompson

Celtics news: Daniel Theis, Tacko Fall must step up for Tristan Thompson
Dec 23, 2020; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis (27) defends Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) during the second half at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith offered a look ahead to which opponents are on tap for the Celtics, along with who’s next on the depth chart:

There’s no question Boston is thin up front right now. Stevens can deploy exceptional defenders like Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to compensate for a lack of big men, yet the Celtics are in a compromising position when it comes to rebounding in particular.

Despite being a starter last season and now, Theis averaged 24.1 minutes per contest in 2019-20 and has seen his time on the court dip by a few minutes with Thompson’s arrival. Now, even with Boston still playing a relatively small lineup much of the time, it’ll be on Theis to take on a larger role.

But the X-factor here is Tacko Fall. He’s barely appeared in the NBA, with only eight games under his belt to date. However, the 25-year-old stands at a tower 7-foot-5, which in and of itself is extraordinary.

More than just a merely imposing physical presence, though, Fall has been extremely impressive thus far. In 39 minutes, he has 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting, 16 rebounds and six blocks.

If Fall can provide some effective minutes to compensate for the absences of the Williamses and Thompson in particular, it’s possible the Celtics can navigate this portion of the schedule without too much trouble. That said, missing key players for any stretch of this shortened, 72-game season means more than it would in years past.