In a break from their band-aid loving ways, the Boston Celtics could be at full health for Wednesday’s visit from the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Celtics, whose injury report has rarely been blank in recent seasons (and even more rarely stayed that way), expect to have their full roster available Wednesday.
That would include starting center Robert Williams, who had missed the last three games due to a non-COVID illness, and backup guard Dennis Schroder, who sat out Sunday’s win over Toronto due to an ankle sprain.
"Everybody is looking good,” said Celtics first-year coach Ime Udoka, resisting an immediate urge to knock on wood. "This could be one of the few times we have our squad back fully.
"Injury front wise, the flu, guys that were out with that are good to go, as you saw with Josh [Richardson], and Rob is hopeful as well. Dennis, the ankle got a chance to rest, and these two days I think are our first two-day break since the start of the month. So it will be good for guys that are playing heavy minutes, as well as Jaylen [Brown], some guys coming off things.
"So looking forward to it. Like I said, I think will be the sixth time in 22 games that we've had the whole squad and, knock on wood, we're good to go by [Wednesday] still.”
The Celtics’ preferred starting five — Jayson Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart, Williams, and Al Horford — has played a mere 64 minutes together in six appearances this season. That’s still the second highest total of minutes for any of Boston’s five-man lineups this season, which drives home just how much that Udoka has been forced to mix and match.
Even when their starters have been healthy, the Celtics have rarely had their full roster available. Injuries and illness have routinely chipped away at their depth.
But Wednesday could be a rare outlier and it comes at a good time. The 76ers are getting healthier, too, after losing eight of 11 in a stretch that featured a long absence from Joel Embiid.
For Udoka, it’s the end of what he jokingly dubbed his “revenge” tour after games against San Antonio and Brooklyn, two other stops on his NBA coaching journey. After seven seasons with the Spurs, Udoka spent one year on the bench as an assistant in Philadelphia before joining the Nets last season.
“I think it was the first time in a long time being outside of San Antonio,” said Udoka. "And that system kind of ran itself. So for me that was the step I needed and progression to get away and see some different philosophies, be around different players. It was a good year overall.
"Obviously the ending, getting swept out [of the playoffs] and the staff getting fired, wasn’t the way we expected it to go. But for me it was invaluable just getting into different programs. The day to day things, some of the foundation that was shaped in San Antonio, it was a way to see some things outside the box that I hadn’t done in a while. That was well worth it. It was as valuable as the seven years in San Antonio.”