A near 20-point per game scorer before his arrival in Beantown, Evan Fournier’s production has dramatically fallen off since being acquired by the Celtics at the trade deadline. The 28-year-old has averaged just 9.0 points per game over his nine games with the Cs, while his shooting percentage has dipped nearly 9.0% from the 46.1 field goal percentage he mustered up with the Magic this year.
Of course, Fournier hasn’t exactly had the easiest of transitions, as a battle with COVID-19 has forced the nine-year pro to miss 11 of 20 games since joining the Celtics. Yet, even coming off arguably his strongest performance — a 21-point outing in Sunday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers — lingering effects from the virus continue to take a toll on Fournier.
“I’ve been feeling really weird, to be honest,” Fournier explained to reporters after the loss. “My plan was to stop talking about it so it might help me, but the thing is, it’s like I have a concussion. Right now, it’s actually doing a little bit better. But at first, it’s like the bright lights were bothering my eyes and my vision was blurry and everything was just going too fast for me. And, I mean, that’s still the case. Some stuff are better. But at times, I’m really struggling to focus and my eyes are struggling to focus on one thing. My depth perception is really bad right now. But I saw a specialist, and she gave me some exercises. Hopefully, it’ll get better.”
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Fournier: ‘It’s Heartbreaking to be Honest’
Spending the majority of his NBA career in Orlando, Fournier has never sniffed the second round of the playoffs. The Frenchman was hopeful that could finally change with a change of scenery and that he could prove himself a pivotal contributor in a forthcoming deep playoff run for the Celtics. While all of that can still prove to be true, Fournier can’t help but feel a tad frustrated over the entire situation.
“I’m not overly concerned for my health because I know in time it’s going to get better, and I have no doubt that I’ll be good,” Fournier noted. “It’s just very unfortunate the timing of things. Obviously, I’m new here. So people don’t really know my game and know who I am and it’s just terrible timing. I get here with high expectations and ambitions, and for the first time in my career, I have the opportunity to make a really deep run into the playoffs with a team.”
“So, it’s kind of a golden opportunity for me to finally be with a great team and the fact that I got COVID and now I’m feeling like this, it’s heartbreaking, to be honest,” he admitted. “So, that’s the hard part. You guys don’t know me yet, but I’m mentally as tough as it gets and I get through that for sure.”
Fournier is Improving, But ‘Nowhere Near’ Where He Needs to Be
As we touched on earlier, Fournier put forth arguably his best effort as a member of the Celtics on Sunday night. In 34 minutes (most since joining the team), the wing knocked down 8-of-10 shots from the field, including 5-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc. Fournier also snagged five rebounds and notched three assists and two steals for a well-rounded showing.
While he is hopeful he can build upon his most recent performance, Fournier’s main focus at the time is that his Celtics get things rolling in the right direction ahead of the playoffs.
“It’s been two or three days now, maybe four, where things are a little bit better,” said Fournier. “It’s nowhere near where it needs to be but I’m going to keep pushing and I’m going to keep working on my stuff and things are going to get better. But, I mean, it felt great honestly to … feel like myself a little bit. It’s been a painful comeback, to say the least, but what matters is we build momentum going into the playoffs and we need to keep play(ing) hard.”