Evan Fournier smiles in a Celtics uniform

Pregame Post-Ups: Fournier's Nearing His Return

Monday, April 19 - Bulls at Celtics

Pregame – Fournier's Nearing His Return

Evan Fournier is nearing his return to Boston’s lineup. However, the Celtics don’t know how significant his playing time will be once he does return from the injured list.

Fournier has been in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols since April 6, which has caused him to miss the team’s last eight games including tonight. This is the high-scoring wing whom the Celtics acquired at the trade deadline, the one who scored 23 and 17 points during his final two games before entering the Protocols, respectively.

Fournier is a very important player to the long-term success of this team, as he is by far the team’s most prolific scorer off the bench. He’s also a player who could return to the lineup as early as Thursday night against Phoenix, per Brad Stevens.

“Evan has his final tests that you have to go through to come back and be cleared to be come back from a medical perspective in the next couple of days, and then I don’t know if he’ll be able to join us or not when we practice again on Wednesday,” Stevens said before Monday’s matchup with the visiting Chicago Bulls. “Even if that’s the case, I would say probably doubtful for Thursday, and limited beyond that. I don’t know if he’ll be able to play Friday or not. We’ll just see.”

That is a to-be-determined decision based upon how Fournier is feeling after he – fingers crossed – passes his medical tests in the coming days. Boston has more experience than any team in the league in having its players return from Health and Safety Protocols, and it has taken its time working players back into the lineup upon their return from the injured list.

For example, Rob Williams played 15 and 16 minutes during his first two games back from his stay in the Protocols back in January. More recently, Romeo Langford played 12 and 14 minutes during his first two games back, and Tristan Thompson managed to play 22 and 28 during his first two games back.

Stevens said the next steps for Fournier, from when he will be available and to how many minutes he can play when he does return, will be determined by a combination of people.

“That’ll be determined by our doctors, obviously as he passes all the tests,” the coach said, “and then in conjunction with him.”

There’s no doubt that Fournier will be anxious to return to the lineup later this week. The process of his return may, however, be a gradual one, just as it has been for his new teammates throughout this COVID-riddled season.

- Marc D'Amico

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