Celtics

Pietrus, Wilcox out vs. Blazers

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Pietrus, Wilcox out vs. Blazers

BOSTON The Boston Celtics will once again go into battle short-handed with key reserves Mickael Pietrus and Chris Wilcox out for tonight's game against Portland.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Pietrus has a sore right knee - the same knee Pietrus had surgery on this past summer.

The 6-foot-6 wing did not participate in the team's shoot-around on Friday morning.

As for Wilcox, he is out due to a personal matter.

With them out, look for the Celtics to lean on Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic to fill the void left by Pietrus.

Boston will likely turn to JaJuan Johnson and Greg Stiemsma to provide some of the energy that Wilcox has been bringing to the floor lately.

In addition to Pietrus and Wilcox, the Celtics will also be missing Jermaine O'Neal (wrist). He has yet to decide on whether he will have surgery, or take a cortisone shot which would likely keep him out for a couple weeks afterward. Rivers said prior to tonight's game against Portland that there's no update on O'Neal.

Earlier, Rivers said that he wasn't anticipating having O'Neal back, adding that anything he provided would be "a bonus."

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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