LOS ANGELES – The Boston Celtics’ depth in the starting lineup and the bench will both take major hits heading into tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announcing that both Al Horford and Marcus Smart will not play tonight.
Al Horford is being held out as a precautionary measure after suffering a blow to the head during a collision with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Josh Hart with 19.8 seconds to play in Boston’s 108-107 loss on Tuesday night.
Stevens said Horford was examined by officials who determined he did not have any concussion-like symptoms, but added that they are keeping him out tonight to error on the side of caution which makes sense considering the 6-foot-10 Horford has been in the NBA’s concussion protocol program each of the last two seasons.
“We’ve talked before and sometimes these symptoms appear after a certain amount of time,” Stevens said. “And so again, it’s the prudent thing to do.”
Horford, who spoke to the media briefly at the Staples Center, said he's doing OK but he's "not where I need to be to play, but I'll be alright."
He added that the Celtics team doctor wanted to "play it on the safe side" and keep him out tonight.
"He feels strongly about me not doing anything physical today," Horford said.
Horford later explained his decision to not stay back at the team hotel.
"What I want to do is I want to be playing," he said. "Since I'm not, I'm here with the guys supporting them."
Marcus Smart’s absence is a bit more mysterious.
Stevens said he cut his hand this afternoon on glass at the team hotel that required him to go to a nearby hospital for stitches.
“I don’t know the full story,” Stevens said. “It doesn’t sound like a long-term injury. We’re doing more research on how it happened.”
The fact that the Celtics are investigating this will surely create speculation as to how Smart suffered the injury which was to his right (shooting) hand.
“Obviously, I want to make sure I’m thorough in telling you what happened,” Stevens told reporters a few minutes ago. “Again, I think he cut is hand in the hotel on glass sometime this afternoon.”
Stevens said he had yet to decide on who would be in his starting lineup. One player that will certainly be in consideration to start is Marcus Morris who will be playing in his first set of back-to-back games tonight.
Look for Terry Rozier to see his role increased tonight as well.
When asked whether he saw it as an opportunity for guys or a huge challenge, Rozier said, "It's part of the NBA. You have to be ready. I'm not saying we got guys that can replace Al, or guys that can replace Smart's energy and things like that. But we're a basketball team, with a lot of great talent. We gotta do what we can to win the game."