Celtics

‘I need reps’: Evan Fournier not satisfied in first game back from COVID-19

Fournier went 0-for-7 in Friday's loss to the Nets.

Evan Fournier struggled in his first game back. Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Evan Fournier’s first game back from COVID-19 looked similar to his first game as a Celtic. If you needed a reminder, Fournier shot 0-for-10 from the field in that game, finishing with zero points.

Fournier did score in the Celtics’ 109-104 loss to the Nets, but it was just two points and he didn’t make a shot again, going 0-for-7 from the field.

While Friday’s performance was certainly one that Fournier would like to forget, he was happy just to see some game action after missing the last nine games due to being in the league’s health and safety protocols.

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“Obviously that’s not how I wanted to play. You want to win every game you’re in obviously, “Fournier told reporters after the game. “But I think it was really important for me to get that first game in, just get back out there. I’m going to be tired, but that’s positive. That’s good.”

Fournier’s time with the Celtics hasn’t gotten off to the start either side was hoping for. Since being acquired by the Celtics on March 25, Fournier’s played in just five of the Celtics’ 16 games since that date, and because of that, he was eager to return to the court. Fournier said he rushed his return to help better acclimate himself with his new team.

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“I probably could have waited a few more days or a few more games to feel better, but I just got here and I need reps to play with the guys and really understand the system offensively and defensively,” Fournier said. “So I only had two days of practice and for me, the most important thing is just being out there. It’s going to be hard, obviously, but I have to fight through it and push through it because for me that’s the only way I’m going feel better at some point.”

COVID-19 has been an opponent that’s far too familiar for the Celtics this season. Jayson Tatum, Robert Williams, Tristan Thompson, and Romeo Langford have all missed time after contracting the virus. Tatum noticeably struggled at first in his return after coming back and now uses an inhaler before games, something he never did before he contracted COVID-19.

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Tatum’s recent scoring display plus Williams’ emergence in March could be positive signs for Fournier as he continues to recover from COVID-19. In his two games prior to entering the health and safety protocols, Fournier looked like the player the Celtics acquired, scoring 23 and 17 points, respectively.

Like with Tatum and several other professional athletes that have dealt with COVID-19 though, Celtics coach Brad Stevens admitted that these first few games for Fournier since coming back are going to be tough.

“He’s going to probably, very likely at least, going to struggle and we just don’t have time to practice. He’s got to play. He’s got to get himself up to speed,” Stevens said.

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Fournier will look to have a stronger performance when the Celtics take on the Hornets on Sunday.

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