Celtics Adapting to Lifestyle Changes Amidst NBA Hiatus

BOSTON – It’s been 17 days since the Boston Celtics played their last basketball game, and it’s uncertain when they’ll play their next. What is certain is that their daily routine, along with that of billions of people around the world, must be put on hold as they try to safely establish a new sense of normalcy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 11, the day after the NBA announced the indefinite postponement of the 2019-20 season, the Celtics returned home from Milwaukee and immediately isolated themselves from the outside world. Since that day, there have been no team practices, no direct socialization with one another, no working out with personal trainers, and no face-to-face interaction with fans.

Such sacrifices were required in order to help suppress such an unprecedented worldwide outbreak.

“It’s a really unique, unsettling time for everyone,” C’s coach Brad Stevens said Friday morning during a conference call with the media.

It was especially unsettling for the Celtics last week when they learned that Marcus Smart had tested positive for the virus. Smart, who is the only member of the team who has contracted the virus, has been fortunate in that he remains asymptomatic. Despite not feeling ill, he’s been adamant in remaining quarantined until the virus is completely out of his system. On top of that, he’s been using his platform to advocate for others to follow his lead.

“I’ve been checking in with him, as everybody else has, very regularly,” Stevens said. “I’ve seen him on conference calls a few times and he seems to be doing really well, and I’m proud of how he kind of took the initiative to tell people that he had it and that he felt good, and how he got online and just continues to ask people to practice social distancing and self-isolation right now.”

Despite being isolated, the Celtics are still finding ways to stay in shape and stay connected to one another. They’ve all had stationary bikes and individual weights delivered to their respective homes, and they’ve been participating in voluntary virtual training sessions.

“As a coaching staff, we’re keeping a pulse on all of our team and all of our individuals,” Stevens said. “We’re on Zoom teleconferences a couple times a week so we can all see each other’s faces and talk about non-basketball things. But we’re like the rest of the world in that basketball is taking a far backseat.

“I think it’s more important right now that we’re a community of coworkers and a community of friends and people that care about each other that get online and make sure we’re all doing OK. So everybody’s checking in every day individually, and then two to three times a week, we’ve already had two Zoom conferences this week and we’ll have a couple more next week.”

Stevens and his coaching staff are finding ways to stay active in their line of work as well. Typically, after a season concludes, Stevens will conduct various evaluations through film studies, statistical studies and individual progress reports. The current hiatus, however, has allowed him to get a head start on such evaluations, which should come in handy if and when the 2019-20 season eventually resumes.

If the season does, in fact, recommence, the Celtics, along with all other NBA teams would find themselves in uncharted waters – having to re-acclimate and recondition themselves mid-campaign.

“I’m sure everybody is looking at different things and tweaks and things that were really good for them when they reviewed and analyzed their team, and things that weren’t as good,” Stevens said of the unique process. “And other than that, I’m just working on things that I think will be applicable when we get back together. But, I just don’t think it’s appropriate right now to be hammering basketball with our guys.”

Right now, the most important thing for the Celtics is to remain healthy, safe and stable, both from a physical and mental standpoint. For the foreseeable future, basketball must take a backseat as they join the rest of the world in committing themselves toward bending the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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