Boston Celtics big man Al Horford, who was concussed in practice last Monday, has not advanced in the NBA concussion protocol, and will likely miss Wednesday night's game against the Washington Wizards.

Horford, who was seen running on a treadmill at the Waltham training facility Saturday, appeared to be progressing towards a return after missing the last three games because of an injury he inadvertently received from a teammate. Initially, the contact was not recognized as a concussion, until the following day when Horford experienced nausea at practice.

The NBA's concussion protocol disallows a player to return to basketball activities until they are without symptoms at rest, have seen a doctor, and completed the return-to-participation exertion protocol. A fairly rigorous procedure (rightly) designed to protect the health of players - even when they are willing to play - above the needs of the team, the protocol consists of three main elements:

1. The return to participation protocol involves several steps of increasing exertion – from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills.

2. With each step, a player must be symptom free to move to the next step. If a player is not symptom free after a step, he stops until he is symptom free and begins again at the previous step of the protocol (i.e., the last step he passed without any symptoms).

3. It’s important to note that there is no time frame to complete the protocol. Each injury and player is different and recovery time can vary in each case.

Boston has dropped two of three games since Horford's injury, and looks to have become uncomfortably dependent on his presence to anchor their defense just a season removed from putting together one of the league's best with largely the same players.

While the possibility remains for Horford to play Wednesday, the timing of the protocol makes it less than likely, and at present Al's status seems unclear, according to Coach Brad Stevens, as noted in MassLive's Jay King:

"I have not gotten anything deeper than that but he did not do anything with our team today ... I don't know what that means yet. I'm gonna go find out right after (meeting with the media). But I think that not advancing is telling that the symptoms have been at least prolonged through (Sunday)."

One bright spot on the injury front is that both fellow teammates also out on the injured list, Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk are progressing well and likely to return soon. Olynyk, who considered returning this past Sunday against the Nuggets but ultimately decided to continue healing, may be back in action as soon as Wednesday night's tilt with the Wizards.

Horford photo via Keith Bedford/Boston Globe
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 11/08/2016 11:36:00 AM Edit
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