The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers declined to answer when directly asked if their teams were fully vaccinated, according to ESPN. Why does that matter? Either team could face the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs, where there is a vaccine mandate. If the teams are fully vaccinated, there would be no need to decline to answer. This makes the last few games of the regular season very interesting as teams jockey for position.
As it stands the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, seeded-third, would play the sixth-seeded Raptors. The Bucks confirmed that their team is fully vaccinated, so they would have no issues in Toronto.
The Bucks are only a half game behind the Celtics. Milwaukee has four games remaining, the Celtics have three. There can easily be a scenario where the Bucks jump to second and the Celtics fall to third. If the Raptors remain in sixth, that means at least two road playoff games in Toronto. Where it’s likely at least Jaylen Brown’s status would be questionable.
Jaylen Brown said he won't comment on his vaccination or any one else's status. Said he's eager to play in the playoffs after missing last season. Question from @TimBontemps #Celtics
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) April 3, 2022
For those keeping score, declining to answer about your own vaccination status likely means you’re not vaccinated. There is no reason to hide that piece of information.
The 76ers, currently fourth, are also a half game behind the Celtics. But the Raptors are tied record-wise with the fifth-placed Chicago Bulls.
Both the Raptors and Bulls have four games remaining, there is a scenario where the Raptors finish in fifth and the Bulls in sixth. If the 76ers remain in fourth, that means two road games in Toronto for the 76ers.
These last few games of the regular season will be fascinating. Will Boston and Philadelphia try and win every game to avoid Toronto? Will other teams see this and do their best to foil those plans?
In order for a player to be considered fully vaccinated in Canada, they must be two weeks past a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two weeks past the second shot of the two-dose vaccines. In theory there is still time for an unvaccinated player to get the shot.
But what are the chances of that?
They’ve had more than a year to do it. Anyone that hasn’t gotten vaccinated by now isn’t going to do it.
The Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving has been the face of the unvaccinated NBA players. He publicly and defiantly refused. Take away the public health risks he poses, that move likely single-handedly sunk his team’s chances of legitimately contending for a title.
It will be interesting to see if the Celtics and 76ers championship fates are similarly done in.
You need to be both very good and lucky to win a championship. There are factors outside of your control, which is why luck matters. Avoiding travel to Toronto would be big for both the Celtics and 76ers. But they can only control that to a certain extent. Win or lose games as necessary, but the other teams near them in the standings have to do exactly what is needed.
You can’t control what other teams do.
Of course, none of this would matter if both teams controlled what they could have at the beginning of the season. Ensuring their teams were fully vaccinated.