The Boston Celtics will be short-handed to start the Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Miami Heat.
Not only will they be without guard Marcus Smart, who suffered a foot injury in Game 7 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, but they'll also miss Al Horford. The veteran big man was ruled out for Game 1 due to health and safety protocols.
Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said the team found out about Horford's status just two hours before his pregame press conference. He wouldn't confirm whether Horford tested positive for COVID-19.
“As always we don’t comment on the status of our guys,” Udoka said. “He’s feeling fine and go from there. Wait to see results and future tests.”
This is Horford's third stint in health and safety protocols this season. While it comes at an inopportune time for Boston, Udoka is hopeful Horford will be available for Game 2 on Thursday.
“It’s unsure. That’s more of a medical question, honestly,” Udoka said on Horford’s potential Game 2 availability. “But there are different protocols and tests that have to be passed, and we’ll know more going forward. But it’s not a definite that he’s out for two games.”
Derrick White and Grant Williams will start in place of Smart and Horford. Payton Pritchard, Robert Williams and Daniel Theis are expected to play a big role as the next men up in their absence.
Game 1 in Miami tips off at 8:30 p.m. ET.