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NBA Playoff Teams Asked About Player Availability In Canada

A general view of the Toronto Raptors arena.

TORONTO, ON - MAY 15: A general view of the Air Canada Centre prior to Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on May 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Canada ordinance requires NBA players to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enter the country. That could create some complications depending on who begins the postseason against the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors are currently seeded sixth in the Eastern Conference, but they're only a half a game behind the No. 5 Chicago Bulls and one game ahead of the seventh-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers. Furthermore, the four teams atop the standings are separated by 1.5 games, so there's no shortage of potential opening-round opponents.

That keeps the window open for potential issues.

According to ESPN's Tim Bontemps, the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat said their players are all vaccinated. However, the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers declined to comment.

On Monday, with the vaccine rules in effect, the Celtics played in Toronto without Robert Williams, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Al Horford. Williams is out four-to-six weeks after undergoing meniscectomy, and Horford also missed the team's previous game due to personal reasons.

Tatium was ruled out with a right patella tendinopathy, and Boston attributed right knee soreness to Brown's absence in the second game of a back-to-back. While Tatum said he was vaccinated before the season began, Brown called it "a personal choice." Both stars are expected to return Wednesday night against the Heat.

The 76ers have not played in Toronto since the ordinance went into place, but they will on April 7.

If they fall into the play-in tournament, the Raptors could host the Brooklyn Nets at Scotiabank Arena. Kyrie Irving, who was unable to play at Barclays Center until New York mayor Eric Adams lifted the vaccine mandate for performers last week, would not be able to join the team for a potential elimination game.

Canada considers a fully vaccinated player to be two weeks removed from their second shot of two-dose vaccines of first dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The play-in tournament begins in less than two weeks on April 12.