Celtics

No doubles ping pong? NBA restart includes these odd safety protocols

No doubles ping pong? NBA restart includes these odd safety protocols

How do you safely host 22 teams for months of basketball games in a confined space amid a global pandemic?

You establish guidelines. Lots and lots of guidelines.

That's apparently what the NBA is doing as it moves toward restarting the 2019-20 season at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando later this summer.

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The league sent a 113-page memo of "Health and Safety Protocols" to the Boston Celtics and the 21 other teams involved in the restart Tuesday night, per The Athletic's Shams Charania.

The memo reportedly includes some important information, including how often players will be tested -- everyone in the Disney "bubble" will receive a "Smart Thermometer" they can used to check their temperature daily, per Charania -- and what happens if a player tests positive for COVID-19 (a mandatory quarantine in "Isolation Housing").

But the memo also features some very specific safety measures for players and staff to follow in their unique living situations, as the teams reportedly are divided between three hotels at the resort. (The Celtics will stay at Grand Destino, in case you were wondering).

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Here are some of the highlights, as reported by Charania unless otherwise noted:

-- Doubles ping pong is prohibited. "Until directed otherwise by the NBA, players should play singles only so that they can maintain six feet of distance from each other." (Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski).

-- No headsets allowed during video gaming. (Sorry, Gordon Hayward.)

-- Card playing is allowed, but each deck of cards must be thrown away after use.

-- No caddies during golf, and no sharing of clubs or balls. (Got that, Danny Ainge?)

-- No sharing of goggles or snorkels in swimming pools. (Looking at you, Tacko Fall.) (Via Sopan Deb and Scott Cacciola of The New York Times.)

-- Players are asked to avoid spitting or clearing their nose, wiping the ball with their jersey, licking their hands or fiddling with their mouth guard during games. (Per ESPN's Malika Andrews).

-- Players and staff are asked to maintain six feet of physical distance at all times off the court and can opt to wear a "proximity alarm" that goes off when they spend more than five seconds within a six-foot radius of another person who's also wearing the alarm.

How will the NBA enforce all of these guidelines? Will it create a "ping pong patrol" or institute nightly room checks? According to Charania, the league hopes players police themselves.

That could get interesting.

These protocols may seem exhaustive, but they're necessary for the league to safely return to play in a "bubble" environment and lower the risk of spreading the virus.

So, if Hayward has to sacrifice his video game headset or Fall can't share his swimming goggles with Grant Williams, so be it. At least they'll be back on the court with a chance to compete for the NBA title.

Kemba Walker sheds light on decision to sign with Celtics over Knicks

Kemba Walker sheds light on decision to sign with Celtics over Knicks

Kemba Walker was this close to becoming a New York Knick instead of a Boston Celtic last summer.

Before signing a four-year, $141 million contract with the C's, Walker considered the Knicks in free agency. The 30-year-old said last fall he believed Boston was "just a better fit" for him despite New York being his hometown team.

Walker shed more light on whether he had serious interest in joining the Knicks during this week's episode of The Ringer's "R2C2" podcast.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Raptors, which begins Friday at 8 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

“To be honest, yes. Yes. Very serious, very,” Walker said ... "Before Boston actually came along, the Knicks were one of my top priorities, actually, because I was thinking they were gonna get another player. But it didn’t work out.”

Watch below:

New York was rumored to be in the running to sign Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant, but both stars chose the Brooklyn Nets instead. It was a rough offseason for the Knicks, to say the least.

In his first year as a Celtic, Walker is averaging 20.8 points and 4.8 assists per game. The four-time All-Star has dealt with a nagging knee injury over the last several months but is encouraged by the progress he's made in the Orlando bubble.

"For me to feel like myself again, it definitely feels good. Just gives me a lot of confidence heading into those games," Walker said on the "R2C2" podcast.

The C's will need a healthy Walker if they're to have a shot at Banner 18.

To listen to the full episode, go here.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Can Romeo Langford, Robert Williams shine vs. Raptors?

Celtics Talk Podcast: Can Romeo Langford, Robert Williams shine vs. Raptors?

The Boston Celtics gave their best performance of the NBA's restart in Wednesday night's blowout win over the Brooklyn Nets, and a boost from two of their most recent first-round picks played a key role in the victory.

Boston's bench scoring has been hit or miss in the seeding games so far, but the second unit didn't disappoint against the Nets. Second-year center Robert Williams scored a career-high 18 points with five rebounds and three blocks. Rookie guard Romeo Langford didn't make a huge impact offensively with only four points, but his defense was fantastic. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Raptors, which begins Friday at 8 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

The Nets are one of the worst teams in the Orlando bubble, so while the performances of Williams and Langford are no doubt encouraging, the Celtics need these guys to make a similar impact versus the top teams in the Eastern Conference, too. 

On a new episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, our C's insider Chris Forsberg gives his take on Williams' and Langford's play so far, and what the future holds for them with the playoffs approaching.

"Here's what I think Brad will take away. He'll sit back and he'll say, none of these guys have really stepped up and grasped their opportunity through the scrimmage games and early seeding games, and with a chance because Kemba (Walker) was out and the starters didn't play a lot of minutes (against the Nets), (the young guys) finally sort of grasped the opportunity," Forsberg said. "But again, it's what you do from there. ... It's not like you have one good game and (Celtics coach Brad Stevens) just throws you in there. If I had to guess which rookie is still most likely to have the biggest impact, I'm starting to lean toward Langford because he has shown defensively that you can put him in there and even in small bursts of minutes be able to give you something, and to be a steady presence. I think that's important.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Can Rob Williams, Langford help C's carry momentum vs Raptors? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"It's nice to see Rob Williams out there, and there were still a good amount of defenses lapses -- a lot of which he makes up for because he's so athletic. But when I convene the Robert Williams fan club for our weekly meeting tonight, I'm going to tell the congregation, look, let's not get too high or too low, we have to see Rob come back and build off (Wednesday night). My hope is that Rob is the first guy in the gym, even on an off day after two games. That he's in there working, busting his butt and showing that he's ready for that opportunity. If he does that, he's got a better chance to get some minutes. If he got a DNP (against the Raptors), I wouldn't be shocked because that's how Brad operates. But Grant (Williams), Romeo -- one of those guys is going to get a chance in the playoffs and they have to be ready for that opportunity."

Robert Williams could see some action versus the Raptors for the simple fact that Toronto is a pretty big team. He would be a good matchup against Raptors center Marc Gasol or power forward Serge Ibaka. Grant Williams also has good size and a high defensive IQ, so he could match up against those Raptors big men as well. 

Coaches typically shorten their rotations in the playoffs and only give minutes to players they can trust. But there are plenty of scenarios, including foul trouble, injuries, etc., that force guys at the end of the bench to play a role. For the Celtics to make a deep playoff run, they'll need young players such as Langford and both Williams' to give them some good minutes against contending teams. 

One of the best ways to find out which players are capable of handling that burden is actually giving them minutes before the playoffs, and Friday's game against the Raptors is a good opportunity to see how these young guys respond.

Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast on your favorite podcast app or watch it on YouTube below.