WALTHAM, Mass. – The extra days of practice could not have come at a better time for the Boston Celtics, with key players sitting out to rest their bumps and bruises leading up to Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Both Al Horford (left knee/calf injury) and Jayson Tatum (left knee) returned to the practice floor on Monday after missing practice on Saturday.
“It’s responding better,” said Horford who plans to play against the Pelicans on Tuesday. “I’m excited for the game tomorrow.”
Tatum echoed similar sentiments.
“It’s feeling a lot better. I just tweaked it in the game in London,” said Tatum who like Horford, confirmed he too planned to be in Boston’s lineup against New Orleans. “And on a long plane ride, it got stiff. We had a few days off from practice. They just told me to rest the other day in practice.”
Monday was Boston’s second practice since returning to town following their five-day London stay which included an 11-point win over Philadelphia last week which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to seven in a row and improved their East-leading record to 34-10.
The added time in between games will provide Boston an opportunity to tighten up a couple areas of slippage that, while haven’t factored heavily in terms of wins and losses, has made finding success tougher than needed.
In their 114-103 win over Philadelphia on Jan. 11 at The O2 Arena in London, Boston trailed by as many as 22 points before rallying in the second half in which they led by as many as 19 points.
Horford had 13 points and eight rebounds in the win over the Sixers, while Tatum had 16 points – 11 coming in the third quarter.
Both played key roles in last week’s win, and their value remains high heading into Tuesday’s game against the Pelicans.
The timing of Tatum and Horford’s injuries not being serious comes when the Celtics are just starting to become whole.
Terry Rozier is playing some of his best basketball of the season lately. Daniel Theis and Aron Baynes are steady contributors defensively as well as on the boards.
And Marcus Morris, who has spent most of this season either injured or playing with a minutes restriction, played with no limitations last week in London and delivered one of his best games of the season.
Morris came off the bench to score 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go with eight rebounds in helping Boston come away with the win.
“It really is about the five on the court,” Baynes told NBC Sports Boston. “No matter who they are, we all know we got a job to do and we do it well, really well, together.”