Celtics

Brad Stevens ‘hopeful’ Evan Fournier could return to Celtics’ lineup this weekend

Fournier entered health and safety protocols after just four games with the Celtics.

Evan Fournier could return this weekend. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

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Evan Fournier entered health and safety protocols on April 6 before the Celtics were handled with relative ease by the Philadelphia 76ers.

Nearly three weeks later, the end of Fournier’s absence finally appears to be in sight. According to Brad Stevens, the Celtics are hopeful Fournier might be cleared at some point during a busy weekend of games.

“I don’t know if he’ll be cleared to play by tomorrow night but I would be hopeful that by Sunday he would be available,” Stevens said on Thursday, speaking to the media prior to the Celtics’ game against the Phoenix Suns.

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On Wednesday, Jayson Tatum said he has spoken to Fournier frequently about the challenges of returning from COVID-19. Tatum still uses an inhaler before games and needed weeks before he was able to return to his usual level of play.

“I think the toughest period is when you first get back,” Tatum said. “Obviously, because you’ve been sitting down for a while and because of the virus. Hopefully, he’ll be all right.  I’m sure he will. But he knows I’m here for anything while he’s dealing with it.”

The Celtics face the Nets in Brooklyn on Friday before traveling to Charlotte to take on the Hornets.

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The Celtics will also be without Jaylen Brown and Rob Williams against the Suns on Thursday. Williams has missed three games already due to left knee soreness.

“Rob went through a pretty good amount of work yesterday in the hopes that he might be able to practice and play today. Wasn’t able to do it,” Stevens said. “Same thing this morning, wasn’t able to do it. He’s still listed as day-to-day but hasn’t shown enough progress to be ready to play.”

Brown, meanwhile, is out with shoulder bursitis. Stevens was asked if the issue began against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, or if it has been an ongoing problem.

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“I gather it was triggered in that game,” Stevens said. “But I don’t know the answer to that. He had not been talking about it before, at least not to me.”

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