Fournier Approaching Orlando Return Like Any Other Game
Evan Fournier is on a mission to regain his strength in both body and mind following a lengthy bout with COVID-19 that has left him dealing with lingering aftereffects on the basketball court.
For the veteran wing, that means no time for distractions – not even with a pair of potentially emotional matchups looming over the next few days, as he will face off against his former team inside his former home arena Wednesday night before going toe-to-toe against a longtime teammate/close friend Friday night.
First up, is a matchup against the Orlando Magic, with whom Fournier spent his last six and half seasons before being dealt to the Celtics ahead of the March 25 trade deadline. Playing back inside Amway Center should certainly bring back fond memories for the nine-year veteran, but he stated Tuesday afternoon that he’ll be trying his best to block all of that out so that he can center his attention on the task at hand.
“I obviously want to be locked in and focused and not think about anything else but winning and playing hard for the Celtics,” Fournier said after Tuesday’s practice in Orlando. “But after playing seven years on one team, of course you're gonna have some memories and I'm going to see familiar faces and all that, so hopefully that won't distract me.”
Fournier doesn’t believe that it will distract him, as he admits that he has already moved past his Magic experience and is emotionally settled with his new Celtics team.
“I had a great time in Orlando, I really did. But I really moved on,” he stated. “Playing for the Celtics, it’s a golden opportunity. So I’m fully here and my focus is really with this team. I don’t have any extra motivation or anything to play against the Magic. I just want to get there, win and just go home.”
However, before he heads home to Boston, Fournier will have to pay a visit to Chicago – the new home of one of his former Magic teammates and best friends in Nicola Vucevic. Fournier spent his entire Magic tenure playing alongside the All-Star center, all the way up until this season’s trade deadline when they were dealt separate ways just hours apart.
If anything, Fournier believes this matchup could be even more emotional than his return to Orlando. And he also has a hunch that Vucivic will likely try to bring him out of his competitive element.
“In Chicago, that’s going to be a little different because Vuc and I are really close,” Fournier explained. “We are good friends and playing against him, we are the total opposite; he likes to talk a lot in games, after and before. And I’m the total opposite; I’m locked in, I don’t talk to anybody. So he’s going to try to treat me for sure.”
Fournier, however, is hoping to treat both opponents to a loss, as he looks to continue to build momentum from a stellar outing Sunday night. After struggling in his first five games back from his bout with Coronavirus, Fournier bounced back against the Trail Blazers with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, including a 5-of-7 clip from 3-point range. He also corralled five rebounds, dished out three assists, and snagged two steals during the 129-119 defeat.
Fournier stated after the game how he continues to deal with the aftereffects of COVID, describing it as a similar experience to a concussion in terms of having difficulty with focus and depth perception.
With that being said, he feels like he is making strides and hopes that getting his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday will help to expedite the process even more.
“Apparently there were a lot of people reporting that after getting the vaccine they started to feel better,” he pointed out. “So, we'll see."
And hopefully we’ll see Fournier continue to re-discover his rhythm throughout this week, all while remaining locked in against some familiar faces and longtime friends.