Boston’s Al Horford, left, said he will be available if Boston plays in Toronto, where players need to be vaccinated. Where Jaylen Brown, right, stands is not clear. Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

BOSTON — Al Horford said if the Celtics play in Toronto in the postseason, he’ll be available to play.

Since mid-January anybody playing in Canada has to be vaccinated. Horford’s absence from Monday’s game in Toronto against the Raptors for personal reasons combined with an ESPN story that said the Celtics declined to say whether their players were vaccinated spawned questions.

But Horford said he’d be ready.

“We’re clear on that. I’ll be ready to play wherever,” Horford said.

That either means he already is fully vaccinated or plans to be vaccinated by the time the Celtics could play in Canada. The regular season ends April 10 and the playoffs will begin shortly afterward. Boston entered Thursday in a virtual tie for the third seed and would play the fifth-seeded Bulls if the season ended today.

Toronto is currently sixth, but there is plenty of shuffling going on among the top four teams.


Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were both slightly unexpected scratches Monday with knee issues. Before the season, Tatum said that he’s vaccinated, but Brown was noncommittal leaving his status unclear.

“I have my own thoughts about it but I respect my teammates’ decisions and things like that,” Brown said. “I know everybody has their own opinion about it but I think it’s a personal choice.”

On Sunday, Celtics Coach Ime Udoka was asked if anyone’s absence was vaccine-related.

“I mean our thing is strictly based on injury history and the personal stuff Al is dealing with,” he said.

Asked another time, Udoka said.

“Yeah, I mean, we are, obviously Canada changed their rules, but we are looking at our guys available to play,” he said. “All the guys, if healthy, that are available to play.”


THERE WERE obviously some frustrations Wednesday with some calls, culminating in Marcus Smart getting ejected with 10.8 seconds left in the game. Tatum also picked up a technical after he kept jawing at the refs.

Udoka said the Celtics had some composure issues, saying they needed to be better in that area and not let it affect other parts of the game. Tatum also needs to make sure he doesn’t pick up at least three technicals for the rest of the season. He’s at 13 total on the year, where he’ll be hit with an automatic one-game suspension if he reaches 16.

“I do not want to have to sit out a game,” Tatum said. “The previous 12 techs, I’ve looked at all of them. I agree with probably 10 of them I deserved, but tonight, I don’t know. That’s the one I got to think about and watch. That was a tough one. I was trying to have a conversation. I was asking questions. It’s unfortunate that I got that tech.”

TEAMS WANT the ball out of Tatum’s hands as much as possible – especially because he’s played some of the best basketball of his career of late. That means throwing double teams at the 24-year-old and forcing him to make the correct decision every time.

That’s a difficult balancing act, then, where Tatum needs to make the right play. But the team needs him to make buckets. The Heat did a great job Wednesday forcing Tatum to defer more as the All-Star only had three field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter.

“We seek out matchups, and when we got it, they were running somebody else at me,”  Tatum said. “I’m not going to shoot from 25 feet over two people. Just make the right play. We have talented guys on our team. Some bunnies that we missed, some open 3s that we’ve been making teams pay for a lot lately.”


TOO MUCH COMPLAINING: Udoka has never been afraid to take his team to task since taking over as Celtics coach.

After Wednesday’s loss to Miami, one of Boston’s opening remarks of his postgame press conference put that mentality on display.

“A little bit of complaining, I think it was early in the game,” Udoka said when asked about his team’s composure. “We talked about it at halftime. We were complaining a little bit too much, being down one as poorly as we played early and not playing our best basketball. We got caught up in that early in the game as some calls late that didn’t go our way and we got caught up in that.

“We still have to transfer down to the other end and continue to guard, play through it. It’s a physical team that felt like a playoff atmosphere tonight as far as that. We could do a better job with our composure for sure.”

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