BOSTON – The Boston Celtics remain in “next man up” mode with several players out for tonight’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Boston’s five-time all-star Kyrie Irving will miss his second straight game due to a right quadriceps injury he suffered on Monday at Denver.
“Kyrie feels a little bit better,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “But will be day-to-day, and is not ready to play.”
And Marcus Morris, who had a game-high 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting in Boston’s 103-73 win over New York on Wednesday, is also out tonight. Morris took a hard spill in the third quarter and landed on the left side of his hip/butt region, but eventually rose to his feet with the assistance of the medical staff.
Boston will also be without Shane Larkin (sore knee) and Marcus Smart (right hand laceration), as well as Gordon Hayward (ankle).
“Marcus Morris, I joke that his butt’s better, but we’re not playing him because he wore that jersey,” said Stevens, referring to Morris, a Philadelphia native, showing up to the TD Garden on Wednesday wearing a Philadelphia Eagles jersey.
On a more serious note, “he (Morris) feels better than we thought he would,” Stevens said, and then added, “He’s going to still be out for the foreseeable future, a couple days and go from there.”
Stevens was asked who among his injured players was most likely to play on Sunday against Portland, and responded by indicating Irving and Morris but cautioned it’s too soon to know that for sure.
Marcus Smart suffered his hand injury prior to the Celtics road game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 24 when punched a picture frame at the team hotel out of frustration.
The initial timetable was about two weeks from when the incident happened, but Stevens said a new timeline has him somewhere close to the all-star break.
There haven’t been any setbacks, said Stevens who added the new timeline had to do with the rate at which the skin on his hand is healing.
MORE ON NBCSPORTSBOSTON.COM
Not only will the Celtics be short-handed in terms of healthy bodies available tonight, but they will also be lacking when it comes to experience.
Boston may have as many as 11 players in uniform tonight (that includes two-way players Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird), with seven being rookies.
“It’s a blast for them,” Stevens said of his rookies. “It’s great for them to get opportunities. We talked about it at the start of the year, we’re not going to lean on that as the excuse. We’re going to hopefully have everybody get ready for their chance. And when their chance comes, hopefully they maximize it.
Stevens added, “We need all of those guys. They’re not on the team for what they might look like five years from now. We need them to help us win now. That’s the responsibility everybody has.”