UPDATE: 2:45 p.m.: The Celtics have ruled David Lee and R.J. Hunter out for tonight's game.
NEW ORLEANS – Injuries and illnesses will make it tougher for the Celtics to close out their five-game road trip on a winning note tonight.
Avery Bradley (illness) did not participate in the team’s morning shoot-around, putting his status for tonight in jeopardy.
And David Lee, a regular member of the rotation off the bench, is still on the mend with a heel injury that kept him out of a 108-105 loss at San Antonio on Saturday.
Oh, there’s more.
Rookie R.J. Hunter has a left hip flexor injury that puts his availability in question, as well. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the injury occurred near the end of the team’s practice on Sunday.
“But he feels better this morning and will give it a go in shoot-around,” Stevens said. “So it looks more positive than not, but he’s not for sure, either.”
And keep in mind, their injuries and illnesses are in addition to the team already being without Marcus Smart (left knee bruise) who has missed Boston’s past eight games, 11 total if you include the three games he missed earlier with a left big toe injury.
It all adds up to a Celtics team that won’t be at full strength against a New Orleans team that’s trending in the opposite direction.
Injuries more than anything else, have contributed to the Pelicans (5-15) getting off to such a slow start this season.
Still, key players, such as Tyreke Evans, are returning to the lineup, which makes tonight’s game a lot tougher for the Celtics to win than most would expect based on the Pelicans’ record.
“We’re not playing the New Orleans team that played the first 15 games of the year,” Stevens said. “We’re playing the team that everybody thought would be who they are … it’s a good team.”
Which will make tonight’s game tougher for Boston. And not having all their healthy players at full strength will make the challenge even greater.