In their Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat Tuesday night, the Celtics were without two of their usual starters. Guard Marcus Smart missed the game due to a foot sprain, while forward Al Horford entered the NBA’s health & safety protocols – which relate to COVID – just hours before tip-off. According to a new report, at least one of the two could be back for Game 2 on Thursday.
Yahoo’s Chris Haynes is reporting that Smart “is aiming for a return in Game 2.” This comes after he tested his foot and received treatment throughout the day leading up to Game 1, but was ultimately ruled out as a game time decision. His status for Game 2 is now “dependent on how his foot responds to treatment over the next 36 hours,” Haynes writes.
Meanwhile, he added the team “does not anticipate Al Horford being cleared” for Game 2. “There is a minuscule path in which the veteran big man could fulfill the necessary steps for clearance, but sources maintain it’s highly unlikely,” Haynes adds.
The Celtics declined to comment on whether or not Horford had actually tested positive, or was in the protocols for another reason. Head coach Ime Udoka told reporters on Tuesday that Horford is “feeling fine.” Horford has said he is vaccinated.
If Horford in fact did test positive, it raises the question of him having infected others on the team. He was on the team plane for the flight down to Miami, and was pictured in a team huddle during a pre-game shootaround earlier in the day on Tuesday. To this point, no other players have entered the protocols, although Udoka did not participate in a scheduled Wednesday morning media session with what the team described as a ‘non-COVID illness.’
The next check on the Celtics’ conditions should come Wednesday evening, when the team is expected to released an updated injury report. There will then be one Thursday afternoon and another Thursday evening leading up to Game 2. Tip-off for that one is set for 8:30 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning at 8:00 on 98.5 The Sports Hub and the 98.5 The Sports Hub Celtics Radio Network.