Fall's Wish Comes True, as He Rejoins Celtics for Game in Orlando
ORLANDO – Tacko Fall is back – in more ways than one.
Fall is back with the Celtics after being recalled Friday morning from the Maine Red Claws. He had spent the last two weeks with the Red Claws after making an appearance with the Celtics Jan. 8 against San Antonio, during which he scored four points and grabbed three rebounds.
Fall told Celtics.com that the team notified him Thursday morning that he would be getting the call-up. However, travel issues delayed his arrival in Orlando until after midnight Thursday.
“I was in Maine, getting ready to go to New York, because we have a game in Long Island today,” he said. “They couldn’t find me a flight yesterday from Maine to Orlando, so I flew with the team to New York, and then flew in and got here late, around 12:30 (a.m.).”
A smile took over Fall’s face as he discussed the travel, because it brought him back to the place where he became a man and made his way under the national basketball spotlight. Fall became a star while attending the University of Central Florida and playing four years for the Golden Knights, starting 110 of the 115 games in which he appeared.
Fall said that he had been eying this matchup with the Orlando Magic for quite some time, hoping that his wish of joining the Celtics for their trip to his college town would come true.
“Funny thing is I was there (in Boston) a couple of days ago and I was talking to (assistant general manager) Mike (Zarren),” he recalled. “I was like, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen, but that would be great to go to Orlando.’ And next thing you know, they told me pretty much yesterday morning.”
The 7-foot-5 center then revealed that he wasn’t the only person who was anxious about the possibility of him making a return to Central Florida.
While referencing his college teammates, coaches and friends, he said, “They reached out to me way before (Thursday), asking me if I was coming. So definitely got a lot of people coming tonight.”
Fall could not put an exact number on the amount of friends and family that he will have at tonight’s game. He just described the number as “a lot.” He did, however, acknowledge that his mother, Marianne Sene, will be in attendance.
No matter what the amount of tickets is that Fall will need to get a hold of, one thing is for certain in the mind of Brad Stevens: everyone inside the Amway Center will be rooting for No. 99 in green and white.
“He’ll be a fan favorite and will get a ton of chants, especially here in Orlando,” the coach said. “As I said before, I’m sure we’ll have a lot of green, because we always travel well as a fan base, and I’m sure there will be a lot of UCF fans. But 100 percent of the people in here will be Tacko fans. I guarantee that.”
Tonight’s game will actually be Fall’s second inside the Amway Center as a member of the Celtics. He also accompanied Boston for its Oct. 11 preseason matchup with the Magic. Fall played just five minutes and 33 seconds of that game, totaling two rebounds and one assist.
In the three months that have passed since that brief appearance, Fall believes that he has developed into a much more polished basketball player.
“Definitely a lot better,” said Fall, who has averaged 13.5 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game for the Red Claws. “I got to play in a couple of (NBA) games, so definitely more experienced. And the time I spent going back and forth from the G League and here – especially in the G League – just getting a lot of playing time, getting more comfortable on the court. The game is slowing down much more for me. I just feel better overall.”
As such, he believes that he can make an immediate impact if Stevens plugs him into the lineup tonight.
“Defensively, I can do that right away,” he said. “Just my size, and I can move pretty good for my size and I can impact the game on that side like not a lot of people can. So if my name gets called, I’ve just got to stay locked in and do that to the best of my capability.”
That very well may happen, because the Celtics are very shorthanded along the frontline. Jayson Tatum, Enes Kanter and Robert Williams have all been ruled out of tonight’s game. Their injuries leave Vincent Porier and Fall as the Nos. 2 and 3 centers on the depth chart, respectively.
Daniel Theis, the team’s starting center, will likely garner major minutes, and the Celtics will likely play some small ball with Grant Williams at center. Still, the possibility of Poirier and/or Fall receiving significant playing time tonight is as high as it has ever been this season.
That’s exactly what the lovable Fall wished for in Orlando.
He’s not only back with the Celtics and back in his college town, but he also has a real chance to get on the court and help Boston take down the Magic.