Celtics Notes: Horford, Smart, Udoka, Tatum

The Celtics aren’t counting on big man Al Horford clearing the NBA’s health and safety protocols in time to return for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Horford entered the COVID-19 protocols just hours ahead of Game 1 on Tuesday. While there’s a chance he could register the negative tests necessary to exit the protocols prior to tip-off on Thursday, Haynes classifies those odds as “minuscule,” with sources telling him it’s highly unlikely.

If Horford registered a positive COVID-19 test, he’ll have to remain in the protocols for at least five days unless he records two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. A five-day absence would sideline him for Game 3 as well.

The Celtics missed the presence of Horford and starting point guard Marcus Smart on Tuesday, surrendering 118 points and allowing Miami to shoot nearly 49% from the field in the Game 1 loss.

“Obviously, we weren’t prepared to be without Al,” Jaylen Brown told reporters after the game. “We definitely weren’t prepared to be without Al and Smart. So, it’s not an excuse. We got to be better.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Smart, who was unavailable for Game 1 due to a right mid-foot sprain, is aiming to return on Thursday, according to Haynes. However, his status will hinge on how his foot responds to treatment today and tomorrow.
  • Several Celtics staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 during the last few days, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said during an appearance on Get Up on Wednesday morning (video link). The team also announced that head coach Ime Udoka is dealing with an illness, though it’s said to be a non-COVID ailment (Twitter link via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press).
  • The Celtics don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but last night’s lottery results could still have an indirect impact on the team going forward. Brian Robb of MassLive.com explains how.
  • Christopher L. Gasper of The Boston Globe praises Jayson Tatum‘s growth as a leader this season, but says the star forward will have to show more mental toughness in order for the Celtics to to win their series vs. Miami.
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