Celtics

Mass. governor Charlie Baker announces when pro sports teams can resume practices

Mass. governor Charlie Baker announces when pro sports teams can resume practices

Boston sports teams will soon be able to practice again following an announcement Friday by Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker.

Baker said during his COVID-19 press conference that he will issue an executive order next week that will include pro sports teams being allowed to practice at their facilities starting June 6, with safety precautions.

"We've had positive conversations with our professional sports teams, the Celtics, the Bruins, the Patriots, the Red Sox and the Revolution," Baker said. "This (executive) order also will allow professional sports teams to begin practicing at their facilities in compliance with the health and safety rules the leagues are developing. Facilities are still closed to the public at this time.

"I know we still aren't at the point where we'll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet, the leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. I think we all hope, that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner."

This is a positive step toward the return of pro sports, but plenty of work remains.

The NHL unveiled a detailed return-to-play plan on Tuesday, although no specific dates for when games would resume were given. The NBA has not yet announced a formal return plan, although there have been reports about the possibility of finishing the season in one central location, such as the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Major League Baseball and the MLBPA still have issues to work out before the 2020 baseball season can commence. The 2020 NFL season isn't scheduled to begin until September, but the offseason already is well underway and has included virtual workouts/meetings.

WATCH: Jayson Tatum shows off impressive golf swing (to Kemba Walker's delight)

WATCH: Jayson Tatum shows off impressive golf swing (to Kemba Walker's delight)

What do NBA players do in the Orlando bubble when they're not on the basketball court?

They find other ways to show off their athletic prowess.

Boston Celtics teammates Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker blew off steam over the weekend by heading to a golf course near Walt Disney World, as golf is one of the recreational activities allowed under the NBA's 2020 restart plan.

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And according to his Snapchat, Tatum can hit a golf ball pretty darn far. Check out the video the Celtics forward posted Sunday night:

We're not sure what's better: Tatum's (alleged) 320-yard drive or Walker serving as his wholesome hype man.

"This view is fire, too, you've got to smoke this (drive)," Walker says in the video before shouting "Yessir!" after Tatum tees off.

If Tatum keeps improving his game, maybe he can take on C's president of basketball operations and avid golfer Danny Ainge.

In the meantime, Tatum, Walker and the Celtics appear to be finding a good work/life balance as they gear up for their restarted season, which kicks off with three scrimmages later this month before their first "seeding round" game July 31 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

2020 NBA Restart: How would Celtics fare in playoff series vs. Pacers?

2020 NBA Restart: How would Celtics fare in playoff series vs. Pacers?

The Pacers might have been an unsavory first-round matchup for any of the East’s top seeds. Then Victor Oladipo surprisingly opted out of the restart and, suddenly, a matchup with the Pacers seems far less daunting.

Yes, Indiana still has talent, especially if Malcolm Brogdon can get back to full health, especially after contracting COVID-19 during the break. A Pacers team that ranked 17th in offensive rating and 13th in net rating before the season paused remains a vulnerable foe, especially without Oladipo’s offensive talents.

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For Indiana, still stung by watching Paul George shuffle off to LA, Oladipo’s decision leaves the team pondering an uncertain future, particularly with Oladipo set to be a free agent after the 2020-2021 season.

The Pacers split two meetings with Boston this season, with Brogdon keying a December victory while Oladipo was still rehabbing. The Celtics, though, withstood Oladipo’s best performance of his brief comeback while emerging with a win in Indiana right before the season paused in early March.

The Pacers are not devoid of talent, leaning heavy on a frontcourt of first-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. But the absence of Oladipo puts pressure on players like T.J. Warren and Brogdon to shoulder the offensive burden. Suddenly it feels a lot like last year’s playoff team that Boston swept out of the playoffs in the opening round.

The Pacers had the seventh best defense in the league before the break, but they simply don’t have the offensive firepower to hang with the East’s top dogs in a seven-game series. Coach Nate McMillan did a commendable job keeping his team competitive, especially without Oladipo and Brogdon. But the team simply doesn’t have the horses to truly contend in the restart without Oladipo.

The bigger question for Indiana is what the future looks like and, after he opted out to the restart, it’s fair to wonder if Oladipo is eager to be in Indiana deep into the future.

PREDICTIONS FOR CELTICS-PACERS PLAYOFF SERIES

Chris Forsberg: It’s hard to see how this wouldn’t be a 2019 replay if the Celtics and Pacers meet up in Round 1. The Oladipo-less Pacers simply don’t have the top-end talent to hang with with the East elite. Indiana’s size has rarely bothered Boston.

The Pacers are the most agreeable foe for the East’s No. 3 seed and the only question would be whether Indiana could steal a game in a series. Boston might even get some added motivation in a matchup given the Indiana connections for players like Gordon Hayward, Romeo Langford, and Carsen Edwards. 

Prediction: Celtics in 4 games

A. Sherrod Blakely: Indiana's style of play will make this a hard-fought series regardless of who suits up or sits out for the Pacers. But without Victor Oladipo, Boston's edge in overall talent will be too much for the scrappy Pacers to overcome. 

Prediciton: Celtics in 6 games

DJ Bean: The Pacers really could have been a dark horse in the East, but with no Oladipo, I can safely say a Celtics-Pacers series would be the least scared I've ever been in my life. C's would sweep them again. 

Prediction: Celtics in 4 games

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