It’s been a season of acclimation for Evan Fournier. After a false positive COVID test delayed his debut with the Celtics, it took him two games to get used to his new teammates and the TD Garden parquet before he exploded for ten consecutive three-pointers over a two-game stretch in late March. Then, he contracted the coronavirus and missed nine straight games and a valuable opportunity to develop chemistry after the trade. A series of fits and starts followed, but he finished May averaging 20 points on 55% shooting over seven games, including a torrid 57% from behind the arc.
But nothing is like the playoffs. In the play-in game against the Wizards, Fournier put up a quiet eight points, six rebounds, and four assists. In Game 1, he contributed 10, 6, and 2. Game 2 was a bit of a bounce back. In the 130-108 blowout, Fournier played 27 minutes and hit 4-of-5 threes for 16 points, but it wasn’t his shooting that was the rare highlight for the Celtics.
With Boston down 24 and the third quarter coming to a close, Fournier bodied Kevin Durant on the block and was called for a loose ball foul. As he lobbied the officials, Durant said something to Fournier under his breath which prompted this exchange:
It didn’t sway the game or fuel a furious comeback from the Celtics, but for the first time in Game 2, it showed a resolve in Boston that despite going down 2-0 in the series, they weren’t backing down from the challenge of beating the betting favorite to win The NBA Finals.
“With KD, there’s nothing to say really. It’s just playoff basketball,” Fournier said of his run in with Durant.
Fournier is a free agent this summer. After Danny Ainge used $17 million of the $28.2 traded player exception generated by Gordon Hayward’s departure and two second round picks, it’s somewhat expected that Fournier will strongly consider re-signing with the Celtics. His skill set and complimentary game fit perfectly next to Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kemba Walker.
And now, after showing a little grit against a division rival and conference giant in the playoffs, he’s enamored himself with the Boston faithful. Celtics Pride is alive and well.