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Al Horford cleared to play Celtics-Heat Game 2 (coronavirus protocols)

Celtics big Al Horford

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 13: Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics takes the court prior to Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on May 13, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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The Celtics didn’t look like themselves, especially defensively, while losing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Heat.

Because they weren’t themselves.

Boston was missing two starters: Al Horford (coronavirus protocols) and Marcus Smart (foot injury).

But Smart is probable for Game 2 tonight, and – surprisingly – Horford has also been cleared.

Celtics:

Boston won’t be at full strength, missing backup guard Derrick White. But Horford and presumably Smart returning is huge.

Horford and Smart will allow the Celtics to switch far more defensively, eliminating the conventional coverages Jimmy Butler and Miami carved up in Game 1. Experienced veterans, Horford and Smart will also bring a level of poise to Miami.

This doesn’t mean Boston will necessarily win Game 2. The Heat are still darned good.

But, missing Kyle Lowry, Miami is now the shorthanded team in this series.